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Scenes from Four Centuries 


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|"N 1910 sn edition of five hundred and fifty copies of this book, 
-*- lacking what are now its final pages, was issued from The 
Riverside Press. The author can ascribe the instant sale of these 
copies only to the beautiful form in which the book appeared. But 
of any author it must be said that he is wont to crave a wider 
audience than that of bibliophiles, and takes no special comfort in 
hearing that copies of his book have been picked up by collectors 
at twice the original cost. In the present instance he has suggested 
to his publishers on several occasions that the time for a simpler 
edition of the book, accessible to the larger company of readers, had 
come. For various reasons, probably valid, they have never shared 
this view until this moment. Now that they have done so, the 
author realizes that at no earlier date could the story of Boston 
Common have been brought to so appropriate a conclusion as that 
which permits a retrospect of those recent war-time years through 
which it served a great and memorable purpose. 

M. A. DeW. H. 

Boston, June, 1921 


I. The Seventeenth Century 1 

II. The Eighteenth Century 19 

III. The Nineteenth Century 41 

IV. The Twentieth Century 70 
Postscript, 1921 74 
Sources of Information 81 
Index 83 


Bird's-Eye View of Boston, 1850 Frontispiece 

Drawn from nature and on stone by J. Bachmann. Lithographed by Sarony 
& Major, New York, and published by John Bachmann, Greenwich St., New 
York. In the Boston Public Library. 

British Troops on the Common in 1768 32 

From a water-color drawing by Christian Remick made October 1, 1768, and 
now in possession of the Concord Antiquarian Society. Engraved by Sidney L. 
Smith and published by Charles E . Goodspeed, 1902. The View shows encamp- 
ment of the 29th Regiment with field pieces, etc., and was "taken from the 
grove. " 

Recruiting on Flagstaff Hill in the Civil War 58 

From a lithograph by J. H. Bufford, Boston, published September 22, 1862. 
In the Boston Public Library. 

Buying Liberty Bonds at "Liberty Court" 76 

Photographed, 1918, by the International Film Service Co., Inc. 

The title-page vignette is from a drawing by Hammatt Billings engraved 
for the title-page of Sprague's Writings, Boston, 1850. It shows the 
Old Elm and the Frog Pond fountain. 



IF we look for accurate topographical description in the pages of 
poetry, and find it, we are inclined to think either that the de- 
scription is faulty or that the poet holds his title by a doubtful 
tenure. But the most definitely Bostonian poet has written about 
the most intimately Bostonian tract of land with a precision which 
gives his lines a value positively historical. Making all allowances 
for the fact that Dr. Holmes's description of Boston Common in 
1630 is a poetical description, and therefore in some measure im- 
aginative, it opens one's eyes to the essential aspect of the Common 
at the very beginning of things, so far as white men are concerned, 
on what the ancient town records called "this Neck of Land of 
Boston"; and it may well stand at the forefront of any attempt 
to recall the scenes with which the Common has been associated: — 


All overgrown with bush and fern, 

And straggling clumps of tangled trees, 
With trunks that lean and boughs that turn, 

Bent eastward by the mastering breeze, — 
With spongy bogs that drip and fill 

A yellow pond with muddy rain, 
Beneath the shaggy southern hill 

Lies wet and low the Shawmut plain. 

2 Boston Common 

And hark! the trodden branches crack; 

A crow flaps off with startled scream; 
A straying woodchuck canters back; 

A bittern rises from the stream; 
Leaps from his lair a frightened deer; 

An otter plunges in the pool; — 
Here comes old Shawmut's pioneer, 

The parson on his brindled bull. 

The eastward-bending trees represent the observation of no mere 
visitor, misled by the Boston east winds and their reputation, but 
the experience of one who has himself weathered the northwesterly 
gales beating upon the Common directly from the water that long 
bordered its outer slope. If the seasoned inhabitant appears in this 
allusion, the local antiquary stamps himself upon the reference to 

old Shawmut's pioneer, 
The parson on his brindled bull. 

It is a picturesque tradition that the sole settler of the Boston 
promontory, found upon it when Winthrop and his followers ar- 
rived in 1630-, used to ride about the place on the back of one of his 
cattle. Some of the streets in Boston are reputed to have been laid 
out by the cows, and who shall say that the present paths in the 
Common may not have been traced originally by the Reverend 
William Blaxton's (or Blackstone's) bull? Certain it is that this 
English clergyman showed hospitable instincts at the first. He it 
was who went to Winthrop in Charlestown, where the first colonists 
were suffering from lack of good water, and advised their moving 
across to the peninsula of Shawmut, abounding in excellent springs. 
They came, and four years later, in 1634, Blaxton, who had fled 

The Seventeenth Century 3 

from home to escape the lord-bishops, felt that he must flee still 
farther into the wilderness from the " lord-brethren.' ' But before 
going he sold to the town the piece of land which had been set aside 
for his perpetual possession, reserving only a lot of about six acres, 
the boundaries of which have long been obliterated by the houses 
between Beacon and Pinckney Streets in one direction and Spruce 
Street and the water-margin near Charles Street in the other. The 
land which the town acquired ran eastward somewhat beyond the 
present line of Park Street, extended on the southerly side to what 
is now Mason Street, and in the direction of Park Square of modern 
times did not reach quite so far as at present. But it was virtually 
the Common of forty-eight and two fifths acres which has come 
down to us, with minor changes of outline and extent. 

To pay for it the town raised the sum of thirty pounds, by a tax 
of six shillings and upwards levied on every householder. This in- 
expensive acquisition was rendered thrice secure to the colonists as 
a body, by the royal grant of all the land on which they settled, 
and by deeds of purchase and of confirmation from Indian sachems 
whose rights to it were thus superseded. We learn from the deposi- 
tion of four aged men in 1684, describing the purchase from Blaxton, 
that thereupon "the Town laid out a place for a trayning field; 
which ever since and now is used for that purpose & for the feeding 
of Cattell." There was at first some talk about dividing this land 
amongst the inhabitants, but the town records for March 30, 1640, 
contain this entry: "Also agreed upon that henceforth there shalbe 
noe land granted ey ther for hous-plott or garden to any person out 
of the open ground or Comon Feild Which is left betweene the 

4 Boston Common 

Centry Hill & Mr. Colbrons end; Except 3 or 4 Lotts to make up 
the streete from bro. Robte. Walkers to the Round Marsh." l What 
the people had acquired they proposed to hold sacred to the purposes 
of the community. 

The references to the Common in the town records of the early 
years have much to do with its use as a pasture. It is ordered, for 
example, "that there shalbe kept on the Common bye the Inhab- 
itants of the Towne but 70 milch kine; . . . that ther shalbe no dry 
cattell, yonge Cattell, or horse shalbe free to goe on the Common 
this year [1646]; but on horse for Elder Oliver; . . . that if any desire 
to kep sheep, hee may kep foure sheep in liew of a Cow." The right 
of commonage was restricted closely to "those who are admitted 
by the 4 townesmen to be inhabitants." None who came after 1646 
could have the right of commonage, "unless he hier it of them that 
are Comoners." A keeper of the cows pastured on the Common was 
named from time to time, receiving at first "two shillings a Cowe"; 
and, for the benefit of those who elected to keep sheep "in Hew" of 
a cow, a shepherd was subsequently appointed. 

Carefully as the live stock was guarded, it appears that the Com- 
mon required protection from those who made a random distribution 
of "intralls of beast or fowles or garbidg or Carion, or dead dogs or 
Catts or any other dead beast or stinkeing thing"; for in 1652 these 
offenders were "injoynened to bury all such things that soe they 
may prevent all annoyanc unto any." It was bad enough to annoy 
"any"; to annoy the Common itself was more like annoying the 
chief magistrate or the Reverend John Cotton. Accordingly, five 

1 This exception had to do with land in the neighborhood of the present Park Square. 

The Seventeenth Century 5 

years after the enjoinder against using the Common for refuse was 
issued, the town government adopted a more stringent regulation : — 

"Whereas, the comon is att times much anoyed by casting stones 
outt of the bordering lotts, and other things that are offensive: Itt 
is therefore ordered that if any person shall hereafter any way annoy 
the comon by spreading stones or other trash upon itt, or lay any 
carrion upon itt, every person so offending shall bee fined twenty 

All this care of the Common had for its object something more 
than the well-being of cows and sheep. The use of the land as a 
training-field for the militia must not be forgotten. The annual 
spring pageants provided by the review of the school-boys' brigade, 
and, still more, of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, 
typify the close link between the present and the past; for both the 
Latin School and the "Ancients" are vigorous survivals from the 
earliest days in Boston. The alternative names of Sentry or Beacon 
Hill, the eminence from which the Common slopes away, have in- 
deed a military suggestion and significance. If we may believe 
Edward Johnson, writing in 1654, all the Boston hills, of which 
Beacon Hill was the most conspicuous, partook of this military 
character. "All three like overtopping Towers keepe a constant 
watch to fore-see the approach of forein dangers, being furnished 
with a Beacon and lowd babling Guns, to give notice by their re- 
doubled eccho to all their Sister-townes." 

One of the very earliest glimpses of the training-field gains some- 
thing of its picturesqueness from the presence of foreign troops side 
by side with the local militia. In 1643 La Tour, seeking the aid of 

6 Boston Common 

Winthrop and his people against a rival governor of Acadia, came 
to Boston. The pages of Parkman which describe the visit reveal 
a company of French soldiery joining with the Boston trained-band 
in its drill on a muster-field, which the historian calls "probably 
the Common." The Boston men in steel hats and buff coats ac- 
quitted themselves handsomely in the morning. In the afternoon 
the Frenchmen had their innings, and provided a sensation for which 
the spectators were not prepared. This was a sham charge. Sword 
in hand, the visitors made it so suddenly that the women who looked 
on, catching perhaps the spirit of those who feared a Popish con- 
spiracy of some sort, took it for a true assault and were accordingly 
alarmed. This, however, did not prevent the peaceful withdrawal 
of La Tour's men to his ship. 

A single recognizable figure brings the similitude of life to any 
picture. In that rich gallery of ancient Boston scenes, the diary of 
Samuel Sewall, such a figure is found, and with it a characteristic 
glimpse of a May training as far back as 1677. "I went out this 
morning," wrote the diarist, "without private prayer and riding on 
the Comon, thinking to escape the Souldiers (because of my fearfull 
Horse); notwithstanding there was a Company at a great distance 
which my Horse was so transported at that I could no way govern 
him, but was fain to let him go full speed, and hold my Hat under 
my Arm. The wind was Norwest" — and the bad cold which the 
Puritan John Gilpin contracted may well have been ascribed to the 
omission of his morning devotions. 

There is still another aspect of the Common, neither martial nor 
farm-like, reflected in the description of Boston which John Josselyn 

The Seventeenth Century 7 

published in London in 1675. "On the South," he wrote, "there is 
a small but pleasant Common, where the Gallants a little before 
Sunset walk with their M armaZetf-Madams, as we do in Moorfields, 
etc., till a nine a clock Bell rings them home to their respective hab- 
itations, when presently the Constables walk their rounds to see 
good orders kept; and to take up loose people." It is well thus to 
be reminded that there were Gallants among the seventeenth- 
century Puritans of Boston, and that some provision was made for 
hours of relaxation. There are not many such reminders, for the 
good reason that the subduing of nature, as it spread about them 
in the wilderness and appeared within them as a thing to be subdued 
with all the rigors of Calvinistic theology, left little time for anything 

The Common may be regarded as the centre of the outdoor stage 
on which many characteristic dramas of local life have been enacted. 
Each century has had its typical dramas. In the first of our Boston 
centuries the typical thing was Puritanism, the straitest New Eng- 
land sect of it, with an unyielding certainty of right on its own side, 
and of wrong in all who disagreed. The completest protestant is 
never an entirely logical creature, for he cannot endure any protest 
against his own forms of practice and belief. The most disturbing 
protestants against the Boston protestantism of the seventeenth 
century were undoubtedly the Quakers, who made their first ap- 
pearance here less than thirty years after the settlement of the town. 
There is no question that they presented a difficult problem. The 
testimony they felt called upon to bear in support of the truth as 
they saw it was directed equally against the civil and the religious 

8 Boston Common 

order — in so far as the two elements could be separated. Naturally 
such disturbers of the local peace were not wanted, and the fact was 
promptly writ clear upon the statutes. Fines were imposed upon 
citizens who harbored them. Severe measures were taken to drive 
them out, and if they insisted upon returning, whipping, clipping 
of the ears, and even borings of the tongue with hot irons were 
promised as celebrations of the event. The records of the community 
are not stained by the exaction of these penalties upon the tongue. 
Such punishments, however, would have been mild in comparison 
with those which actually were inflicted in carrying out the laws 
passed at the time of highest animosity against banished Quakers 
who presumed to come back. It was ordered that they should pay 
the penalty of death; and because the Common has been regarded 
traditionally as the scene of the execution of four Quakers, 1 the 

1 Mr. M. J. Canavan in a paper read May 17, 1910, before the Bostonian Society, 
has held that these executions did not take place upon the Common. The strong- 
est indications that they did not are (l) the fact that many executions in the 
earliest days occurred on Boston Neck, where they gave the name to Gallows 
(later South) Bay; (2) that in one of the earliest tracts describing Mary Dyer's 
execution, the statement, adopted by Besse, is made that she was marched about a 
mile from the place of her imprisonment to the place of execution; (3) that Samuel 
Sewall, driving in 1685 to Dorchester, saw, " going thither," the place where the 
Quakers were executed: it does not appear how direct his route to Dorchester was, 
or that he surely avoided the Common; and (4) that the journal of Thomas Story, a 
Quaker traveller to Boston in 1699, describes the gallows on which the Quakers were 
executed, and seems to place it where the town gallows is known to have stood, on 
the southerly outskirts of the settlement. On the side of the accepted and frequently 
repeated placing of the hangings on the Common is the nearest approach to a positive 
statement on the subject that I have found in the early records. Bishop's book, pub- 
lished immediately after the execution, says, in describing the events of October 17, 
1659, that Wilson and others " met them [the prisoners] in your Train-field," where 
" he fell a Taunting at W. Robinson," apparently just before Robinson went up the 
ladder. In many other early tracts the place is described merely as " the place of 
Execution." That the Common was frequently used for executions from the begin- 
ning till 1812 there appears to be no doubt. (See Shurtleff, p. 352.) 

The Seventeenth Century 9 

circumstances of their death may be described in some detail. The 
temper of seventeenth-century Boston is somewhat clearly revealed 
in the episode. 

The fullest records of the executions were made by writers in 
sympathy with the Quakers. There was evidently some sympathy 
with them in Boston on the part of those who were neither law- 
makers nor annalists — namely, the mass of the people. The dep- 
uties to the General Court, the true representatives of the people, 
were more friendly to them than the magistrates and the clergy, the 
powers actually in control, and it is hardly strange that these au- 
thorities failed to leave us the fullest story of what in the end was 
sure to reflect small credit upon them. Chiefly, then, from such 
books as George Bishop's "New England Judged by the Spirit of 
the Lord" (London, 1661 and 1667), and Joseph Besse's two works, 
"Abstract of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers "(London, 
1733-38), and "Collection of the Sufferings of the People called 
Quakers" (London, 1753), we may learn something of what took 
place when the four Quaker victims went to their death. The precise 
nature of their offenses and of the processes by which they were 
brought to execution are aside from the present purpose. 

Three executions were planned for the day on which the first two 
took place. This was October 27, 1659. After the Thursday Lec- 
ture, the midweek break in the monotony of non-attendance at the 
meeting-house, a company of two hundred soldiers under Captain 
James Oliver, "with Drumes and Colours and Halberds, Guns, 
Swords, Picks and half -picks," as one chronicler has it, escorted 
Marmaduke Stevenson of Yorkshire and William Robinson, a 

io Boston Common 

London merchant, from the jail, and Mary Dyer from 
Correction, to the place of execution, for the punishr i 

by their returning from exile. The large guard was t *ecaution 
against interference by the people, many of whom felt that matters 
had gone too far. The three Quakers walked hand in hand, Mary 
Dyer between the two men. The drums were placed so near them 
in the procession that if they should try to speak their voices could 
easily be drowned. Their enemies, however, succeeded in taunting 
them. To Mary Dyer, no longer a young woman, but of good estate 
in Rhode Island, where many of her descendants have attained dis- 
tinction, the marshal, Michaelson, put the question, "Are you not 
ashamed to walk hand in hand between two young men? " 

"No," she answered; "this is to me an hour of the greatest Joy 
I could enjoy in this World. No Eye can See, no Ear can hear, no 
Tongue can speak, no Heart can understand the sweet Incomes and 
Refreshings of the Spirit of the Lord which now I enjoy." 

Robinson and Stevenson managed to make themselves heard: 
"This is your Hour, and the Power of Darkness"; and "This is the 
Day of your Visitation, wherein the Lord hath visited you." When 
they neared the gallows-tree — reputed in the traditional versions 
of the grim story to be the Elm near the Frog Pond, which grew to 
be Great and Old until a storm in 1860 destroyed its beauty and 
another in 1876 laid it low — they had to encounter the Reverend 
John Wilson, "your old bloody Priest Wilson, your High-Priest of 
Boston," as George Bishop called him. This Quaker historian re- 
ports Wilson as having said in a sermon: "He would carry Fire in 
one Hand, and Faggots in the other, to Burn all the Quakers in the 

The Seventeenth Century 1 1 

World." T < -ien the Quakers were on trial it was Wilson — according 
to Bishop j who gave as his advice, " 'Hang them, or else ' (drawing 
his Finger athwart his Throat, so making Signs for it to be cut, if ye 
did not)." i o words of comfort, then, were to have been expected 
from him or the "others of his Brethren in Iniquity" with whom he 
stood. "Instead of having a sense upon him, suitable to such an 
Occasion," wrote Bishop, "and as usual with Men of any Tender- 
ness, he fell a Taunting at W. Robinson, and shaking his hand in a 
light scoffing manner, said, 'Shall such Jacks as you come in before 
Authority with your Hats on?' with many other taunting words. 
To which W. Robinson replied, 'Mind you, mind you, it is for the 
not putting off the Hat, we are put to Death.' " 

The manner of execution appears to have been most simple. A 
rope tied to a limb of the tree is said to have been fastened also round 
the victim's neck as he stood on the lower rungs of a ladder leading 
to this limb. When he climbed to the top of the ladder, it was sud- 
denly drawn from under him. 

If the condemned Quakers had deserved such a fate, it is hard 
^to believe that they could have met it with the fortitude they 
showed. Bishop's account of their bearing recalls that of the Chris- 
tian martyrs canonized for holiness and courage: "So, being come 
to the place of Execution, Hand in Hand, all three of them, as to 
a Weding-day, with great cheerfulness of Heart, and having taken 
leave of each other, with the dear Embraces of one another, in the 
Love of the Lord, your Executioner put W. Robinson to Death, 
and after him M. Stevenson." The final words of Robinson, bound 
hand and foot, with a neckcloth tied about his face, are recorded: 

12 Boston Common 

" I suffer for Christ in whom I live, and for him I die." "So he 
being turned off" — in the words of one of the annalists — "M. S. 
went up and spake to the People, saying, 'Be it known unto all 
this day that we suffer not as evil-doers but for Conscience sake ' ; 
then he being bound according to the former manner, as the exe- 
cutioner was about to turn him off the Ladder, he uttered these 
words, saying, 'this day shall we be at rest with the Lord.' " The 
words ascribed to them are not identical in the various narra- 
tives, in one of which Wilson, "this old Priest in much Wickedness," 
has the last word, crying out: "Hold thy Tongue, be silent, Thou 
art going to Dye with a Lye in thy Mouth." 

Still another victim, Mary Dyer, waited her turn. All the exalta- 
tion, or the heroism, of martyrdom was needed to carry her to the 
end of the day's work. With her two dead friends before her eyes, 
she came to the foot of the ladder, where her arms were bound, her 
skirts fastened about her feet, a handkerchief, lent by Wilson, was 
tied over her face for a covering, the hangman's rope placed round 
her neck. So she climbed upward "to be turned off" — in Besse's 
favorite phrase — when a messenger brought word that a reprieve, 
secured by her son, had been ordered. This was done without her 
knowledge, and when she was loosed, and desired to come down, she 
stood where she was, waiting to know what the Lord would have her 
do. Having given herself up to die, her "mind was already as it 
were in heaven," and she said, "She was there willing to suffer as 
her Brethren did, unless they would annul their wicked Law." — 
"Pull her down!" cried the people, ready to drag both ladder and 
victim to the ground. But the chief marshal and others took her 

The Seventeenth Century 13 

by the arms, and led her back to prison, whence she was soon sent 
into Rhode Island. 

The barbarities of the day, however, were not quite ended, for 
the ropes from which the bodies of Robinson and Stevenson hung 
were cut, and the fall to earth broke Robinson's skull. "Their shirts 
were ripped off with a knife, and their naked Bodies cast into a Hole 
of the Earth, which was digged, without any covering; and when 
some friends came and desired their Bodies to be put into Coffins, 
and so into some inclosed Ground, where Beasts might not turn 
them up, your Executioner suffered them to wrap them in Linnen 
and to put them in again; but to take them away, he suffered them 
not, saying, He was strictly charged to the contrary." When Bishop 
goes on to say that Wilson "made a Ballad of those whom ye had 
martyr'd," one is ready to defer acceptance of the statement until 
some antiquarian brings the ballad to light. It was counted one of 
the "providences" of the day, by those in sympathy with the Quak- 
ers, that as the great crowd of sightseers was returning home across 
the drawbridge which connected what is now the North End with 
the rest of the town, the structure "rose up and one end of it fell 
upon many, especially a wicked Woman who reviled the Servants 
of the Lord at their death, whom it greatly bruised, and her flesh 
Rotted from her bones": — further details are omitted here. 

For Mary Dyer to return again to Boston was, in the eyes of 
reason, sheer fanaticism. But reason had little to do with her course 
or with that of the Boston authorities. In May of 1660, about seven 
months after her deliverance from death, she came back to court it 
once more. Again a band of soldiers, on June 1, marched her to the 

14 Boston Common 

gallows. Again the drums before and behind her prevented the 
people from hearing what she might say. The record in Besse's 
book preserves a spirited dialogue at the very gallows. It repro- 
duces so vividly a significant scene long associated with Boston 
Common that it may well be given entire. 

"Being gone up the Ladder, some said to her, That if she would 
return she might come down and save her Life : To which she replied, 
'Nay, I cannot, for in Obedience to the Will of the Lord I came, and 
in his Will I abide faithful to Death.' Then Capt. John Webb said, 
That she had been there before, and had the Sentence of Banishment 
upon pain of Death, and had broken the Law in coming again now; 
and therefore she was guilty of her own Blood. To which she re- 
turned, 'Nay, I come to keep Bloodguiltiness from you, desiring 
you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust Law of Banishment upon 
pain of Death, made against the Innocent Servants of the Lord; 
therefore my Blood will be required at your hands, who wilfully 
do it: But for those that do it in the Simplicity of their Hearts, I 
desire the Lord to forgive them: I came to do the Will of my Father, 
and in Obedience to his Will I stand even to Death.' Then Priest 
Wilson said, 'Mary Dyer, O repent, O repent, and be not so deluded 
and carried away by the Deceit of the Devil.' To this Mary Dyer 
answered, ' Nay, then, I am not now to repent ' : And being asked by 
some, whether she would have the Elders pray for her? She said, 
'I know never an Elder here.' Being farther ask'd, Whether she 
would have any of the People pray for her? She answered, She desired 
the Prayers of all the People of God. Thereupon some scoffing said, 
'It may be she thinks there are none here.' She looking about said, 

The Seventeenth Century 15 

'I know but few here/ Then they spoke to her again, That one of 
the Elders might pray for her. To which she replied, 'Nay, first a 
child, then a young Man, then a strong Man, before an Elder in 
Christ Jesus.' After this she was charg'd with something which was 
not understood what it was, but she seemed to hear it; for she said: 
' Its false; Its false, I never spoke those words.' Then one mentioned, 
that she should have said, she had been in Paradise. To which she 
answered, 'Yea, I have been in Paradise these several Days,' and 
more she spoke of the eternal Happiness into which she was now to 
enter. In this well dispos'd Condition she was turned off, and died 
a Martyr of Christ, being twice led to Death, which the first time 
she expected with undaunted courage and now suffer'd with Chris- 
tian Fortitude." 

After the death of Mary Dyer, there was still another Quaker, one 
William Leddra, hung like his three fellow believers. This last of 
the series of hangings took place March 14, 1661. The records of 
what was said and done bear a close resemblance to those of the 
other executions. The same courage and constancy of faith shone 
forth. When one of Leddra's speeches moved the people to sym- 
pathy, "this was observed," says Besse, "by one Allen, a Priest, 
there present, who to quench that Tenderness, cried out, 'People, I 
would not have you think it strange, to see a Man willing to die, for 
it is no new Thing; and you may read how the Apostle saith, "That 
some should be given up to strong Delusions, and even dare to die 
for it." ' Though the Text doth not say so, but the blind Zeal of the 
Man hurried him into a perversion of the Scripture." As the halter 
was placed round Leddra's neck, he said: "I commend my righteous 

1 6 Boston Common 

cause unto thee, O God"; and, at the very last: "Lord Jesus, receive 
my spirit." 

The story of Leddra's death has one illumination which the other 
narratives lacked — the letter of an eye-witness writing immediately 
after the event. Thomas Wilkie, a stranger in Boston, saw the 
execution, and wrote thus about it to " Mr. Geo. Lad, Master of the 
America of Dartmouth, now at Barbadoes " : 

"Boston, March the %Qth y 1661. 
... "I saw then, when the man was on the ladder, he looked on 
me, and called me friend, and said, 'Know that this day I am to 
offer up my life for the witness of Jesus.' Then I desired leaye of 
the officers to speak, and said, * Gentlemen, I am a stranger both to 
your persons and country, and yet a friend of both/ And I cried 
aloud, 'for the Lord's sake, take not away the man's life, but remem- 
ber Gamaliel's counsel to the Jews : if this be of man it will come to 
naught; but if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it; but be careful 
ye be not found fighting against God.' And the captain said, 'Why 
had you not come to the prison.' The reason was because I heard 
the man might go if he would, and therefore I called him down from 
the tree, and said, 'Come down, William, you may go if you will.' 
Then Capt. Oliver said, 'It was no such matter,' and asked, what 
had I to do with it, and bid me be gone. And I told them I was 
willing, for I could not endure to see this. And when I was in the 
town, some did seem to sympathize with me in my grief, but I told 
them, that they had no warrent from the word of God, nor precedent 
from our country, nor power from his Majesty, to hang the man. 

"Your friend, Thomas Wilkie." 

The Seventeenth Century 17 

The sympathy with the grief of this stranger in Boston was not 
the only evidence of a better feeling. When Leddra was dead, and 
the executioner cut him down, four of the victim's friends were al- 
lowed to catch him in their arms. The executioner stripped the 
body of its clothing, but the friends "were suffered to put it into a 
Coffin, and bury it where they thought meet, a piece of Humanity 
owing not to the Inclinations of the Persecutors, but to the Outcry 
of the People against the Barbarity used to the dead Bodies of the 
two men who were put to Death before." 

As the reader was cautioned to look upon Dr. Holmes's picture 
of the Common in 1630 as a bit of poetical description, so he must 
be sure to remember that the foregoing account of the executions 
is drawn from the narratives of the Quaker annalists, and to make 
due allowances for this circumstance. His own reflection, however, 
will probably convince him that the general truth of the story is to 
be accepted. The important fact is that in 1659, 1600, and 1661 
four Quakers were executed in Boston, because they were Quakers. 
In the face of this record, credulity is not overtaxed to believe that 
in detail the authorities and the victims would have behaved very 
much as Bishop, Besse, and the others say they did. For us of the 
twentieth century, rejoicing that the Common has become some- 
thing better than a training-field, something quite other than a 
cow-pasture, something still more unlike the theatre of cruelties 
which, begun and continued, might have made the Great Elm and 
Tyburn Tree synonyms of shame, the important matter is to recall, 
as best we may, some of the uses, highly characteristic of a seven- 
teenth-century settlement, to which it has been believed that the 

1 8 Boston Common 

Common was originally put. If we would join in a single memory 
the pastoral, the military, and the tragic employments of the Com- 
mon, let us bring to mind the inglorious ending of General Hum- 
phrey Atherton, a famous soldier in his day. As he was riding home 
from the Common, after a military training in 1661, his horse shied 
at a cow, threw him to the ground, and dashed out his brains. The 
Quakers, of whom he had been " a daring and hardened persecutor," 
could not refrain from pointing to his death as "a shocking instance 
of the divine vengeance." 



NTRANCE of the Eighteenth Century," wrote Samuel 

Sewall in the margin of his diary for "Jan y 1, !§." The 
record for the day reads: "Just about Break-a-day Jacob Ams- 
den and 3 other Trumpeters gave a Blast with the Trumpets on 
the comon near Mr. Alford's. Then went to the Green Chamber, 
and sounded there till about sunrise. Bell-man said these verses 
a little before Break-a-day, which I printed and gave them.'* 
The verses themselves are set down in the margin — and pretty 
poor, though very pious, they are. They need not be given here; 
but it is well to recall the manner in which the first new century 
in Boston was announced — solemnly, religiously, and on the 

The blast of the trumpet must have been a familiar sound on 
the training-field. With the martial note the religious was fre- 
quently blended. Sewall more than once mentions prayer at the 
trainings. Apparently it was not always efficacious. On October 
6, 1701, he wrote: "Go to prayer. March down and Shoot at a 
Mark. . . . By far the most missed, as I did at the first. ,, John 
Dunton, in his "Letters written from New-England," tells of a 
training in 1686 when the captain called the troops into close order 
for prayer, and prayed himself. "Solemn Prayer in the Field, 
upon a Day of Training," remarked Dunton, "I never knew but in 

20 Boston Common 

Carried over from the seventeenth into the eighteenth century, 
another custom in which the Common was involved savored more 
of the boisterous intolerance of the time than of the sincerities in 
religious belief. This was the celebration of November 5, "Pope 
Day," when the "gunpowder treason and plot" gave the occasion 
for noisy demonstrations which bore their evidence to the oneness 
of life in Boston and in England. In Sewall — again — before the 
seventeenth century was ended, we find fifty persons attending a 
bonfire on the Common one rainy November 5; the next evening 
being fair, about two hundred "hallowed" about it. In the ensuing 
century the celebration evidently became more elaborate. Some 
of its aspects at the eve of the Revolutionary period are note- 
worthy. By that time two rival Pope Day processions, from the 
North and the South Ends, were customary. In each there were 
effigies of the Pope, the Pretender, and the Devil, so arranged that 
boys mounted on platforms could put them through certain motions. 
When the two processions met, as they were sure to do, a rough-and- 
tumble fight for the effigies took place. There were broken pates 
and bloody noses, but a victory for either side was worth winning. 
If the North-Enders won it, the spoils of the battle were taken 
to Copp's Hill and burned. If the South-Enders won, the Pope, 
the Pretender, and the Devil went up in smoke from the Common. 
From John Rowe's diary we learn that in 1766 there were even 
three papal processions. In 1774 the patriot leaders brought the 
North and South End factions to the harmonious support of a 
common cause, the country, and for the celebration of the last 
Pope Day in Boston, the rivals joined their forces — as if with 

The Eighteenth Century 21 

a premonition of organized labor in the years to come — for the 
single celebration of a "Union Pope." 

The burning of a pretended Pretender was an advance upon the 
hanging of mortal Quakers. But there remained other tragic uses 
for what should have been a peaceful plot of ground. The duel 
between Captain Thomas Smart and John Boydell, which took 
place one forenoon in 1718, had no more serious immediate results 
than the wounding of one of the duellists in the arm, the fining of 
both of them, and their imprisonment for twenty-four hours. Not 
so the duel in 1728 between Benjamin Woodbridge and Henry 
Phillips, two young men of excellent place in the community. They 
quarrelled over cards one night at a tavern-club, took their quarrel 
to the hill on which the Soldiers' Monument now stands, and fought 
with small swords. Phillips ran Woodbridge through the body, and 
left him to die on the Common before morning. By this time he 
himself, with the aid of his brother and his kinsman Peter Faneuil, 
had found refuge in the British man-of-war Sheerness, just sailing 
for France. He died there within a year, broken with grief. Who- 
ever will walk past the Granary Burying Ground slowly enough to 
read through the palings the few inscriptions within reading dis- 
tance, will find that one of them stands over the grave of poor young 
Woodbridge. The Autocrat and the Schoolmistress set the example 
for such an inspection; and if there are any who would rather think 
that Woodbridge's quarrel was not about cards, they may take the 
Autocrat's word for it: "Love killed him, I think . . . Yes, there 
must have been love at the bottom of it." 

Another tragedy of the same year was the drowning of two boys, 

22 Boston Common 

George and Nathan Howell, in the "Back Bay," at the foot of the 
Common. The possibility of skating where the Public Garden now 
encompasses a mere artificial pond was, of course, extended far into 
the century after this accident. But there is one point about the 
calamity which both "places" it in time, and reminds us again of 
the unity between Old and New England. The news of the drown- 
ing was communicated to Dr. Isaac Watts, who, with a sympathy 
proper to the poet of childhood and faith, made the "sharp and sur- 
prising stroak of Providence" the subject of a letter of condolence 
to the mother of the two boys. 

But the drama of the Common at this time was not invariably 
tragic. In the autumn of 1740, for example, we find it used as the 
gathering-place for the thousands who wished to hear the young 
English preacher George Whitefield, and could not be accommo- 
dated within the meeting-houses. A newspaper of the times es- 
timates the crowds that listened to him there as ranging from &ve 
thousand on one of the early days of his visit to twenty-three 
thousand at the last — and this at a time when the total popula- 
tion of Boston was about eighteen thousand. What the people 
escaped by going from the churches to the Common may be gath- 
ered from the account in the "Boston Weekly News-Letter," for 
September 18-25, 1740, of the happenings on September 22: — 

"Last Monday in the Afternoon, the Revd. Mr. Whitefield in- 
tending to preach in the Revd. Mr. Checkley's Meeting-House 
[the "New South"], at the South part of the Town, just before 
the Time when the Service was to begin, some Noise happened by 
the breaking a Piece of Board in one of the Gallerys by some to 

The Eighteenth Century 23 

make a Seat of; it was given out by some imprudent Person, that 
the Gallerys gave way, (tho' there was no Danger thereof,) the House 
being prodigiously crowded, the whole Congregation was put intc 
the utmost Confusion and Disorder; so that being in the greatest 
Concern how to save their Lives, some jump'd off of the Gallery 
into the Seats below, others out of the Windows; and those below 
pressing to get out of the Porch-Doors in hast, several were thereby 
thrown down one over another, and trod upon by those that were 
crowding out, whereby many were exceedingly bruis'd and others 
had their Bones broke: But what is most sorrowful, Two married 
Women in Town, viz., Mrs. Storey & Mrs. Ingersole, and a Servant 
Lad were so crush'd that they dyed a few Minutes after; and on 
Tuesday Mrs. Shepard a Widow of good Repute in Town, and Mrs. 
Ruggles a married Woman died also of the Bruises they received 
by the Crowd; and some others we hear are so much Hurt, that 
it is to be feared they cannot recover." 

No wonder that the Common was a grateful refuge. The very 
magnitude of the crowds that flocked there doubtless added — 
through the psychology of multitudes — to the power of the preach- 
er's words. To the saying of a Boston minister of the time, that 
under Whitefield's influence "negroes and boys left their rudeness," 
may well be added an anecdote of which Wendell Phillips is said 
to have made effective use in a political speech. The story runs that 
at the time of Whitefield's preaching on the Common — though at 
a moment when some one else was speaking — a white man found 
a negro on the outskirts of the crowd, rolling on the ground, crying 
out, "Oh, Massa Whitefield! Massa Whitefield!" and giving all the 

24 Boston Common 

evidences of a conviction of sin. The white man stopped and told 
the negro it was not Whitefield but quite another person who was 
preaching. Shamefaced the negro picked himself up and said, "Oh, 
den I'se gone dirtied myself all for nothin\" 

In the "Boston Weekly News-Letter" for October 9-16, 1740, 
may be found "A Particular Account of the several Collections 
made for the Orphan-House in Georgia," containing an item of 
£200, 15s. 6d. collected on the Common. The total, from some six- 
teen sources in and about Boston, was over twenty-eight hundred . 


pounds — a testimony perhaps as striking as that of the rolling 

negro, and of Franklin in his "Autobiography," to the persuasive- 
ness of the English preacher. Fifty years later, in 1790, the Rever- 
end Jesse Lee preached Methodism so eloquently under the Great 
Elm of the Common that he could be compared with none but 

Another peaceful employment of the Common is associated with 
the episode in Boston history which has come down to us under 
the name of the "Spinning Craze." Before .1720 the Scotch-Irish 
emigrants to New England brought with them an enthusiasm for 
spinning which was not carried wholly into New Hampshire, but 
bore some of its fruits in Boston. Spinning-schools were estab- 
lished. A large building on the present Hamilton Place was devoted 
to the industry. "Spinning-wheeles," says one of the chroniclers 
of the period, "were then the hobby-horses of the Publick." In 
1749 a society for promoting industry and frugality was established. 
An account of its fourth anniversary celebration, taken from the 
"Boston Evening Post" of August 13, 1753, gives the outlines of a 

The Eighteenth Century 25 

scene of unusual picturesqueness : "Wednesday last being the annual 
Meeting of the Society for encouraging Industry and employing the 
Poor, the Rev. Mr. Cooper of this Town, preached an excellent 
Sermon before them, and a vast Assembly of other Persons of all 
Ranks and Denominations, in the Old-South Meeting-House, from 
those Words in 1 Corinthians 13. 5 Charity seeketh not her own. — 
After Sermon £453 old Tenor, was collected (besides the Subscrip- 
tion Money of the Society) for the further promoting that laudable 
Undertaking. In the Afternoon, about 300 Spinners, all neatly 
dressed, and many of 'em Daughters of the best Families in Town, 
appeared on the Common, and being placed orderly in three Rows, 
at Work, made a most delightful Appearance. — The Weavers also, 
(cleanly dress'd in Garments of their own weaving) with a Loom, 
and a young Man at Work, on a Stage prepared for that Purpose, 
carried on Men's Shoulders, attended by Musick, preceded the 
Society, and a long Train of other Gentlemen of Note, both of 
Town and Country, as they walked in Procession to view the Spin- 
ners; and the Spectators were so numerous, that they were com- 
pared by many, to one of Mr. Whitefield's Auditories, when he 
formerly preached here on the Common." It would have been too 
much to expect the long continuance of so lively an interest in the 
domestic arts, and the "Spinning Craze" was short-lived. 

A visitor to Boston in 1740 — one Joseph Bennett, some of whose 
observations have been printed by the Massachusetts Historical 
Society — notes the results of the first plantation of trees in the 
Common, which, but for the Great Elm and two other trees, was 
through all its early history an unshaded field. "For their domestic 

26 Boston Common 

amusements," says Bennett, "every afternoon, after drinking tea, 
the gentlemen and ladies walk the Mall. . . . What they call the 
Mall is a walk on a fine green common adjoining to the south-west 
side of the town. It is near half a mile over, with two rows of young 
trees planted opposite to each other, with a fine footway between, 
in imitation of St. James's Park; and part of the bay of the sea 
which encircles the town, taking its course along the north-west side 
of the Common, — by which it is bounded on the one side, and by the 
country on the other, — forms a beautiful canal, in view of the walk." 

These trees, forming the first of the Malls on the Common, stood 
on what is now the Tremont Street border. The first, the outer row, 
was set out, according to Samuel Adams Drake, between 1723 and 
1729, the second in 1734. A third row has been said by some to 
have been planted before the Revolution, but Drake and Shurtleff 
give the time in the eighties of the eighteenth century. Until the 
nineteenth was well under way, there was no Mall except this one 
along the present Tremont Street. 

The very barrenness of the Common contributed to its value 
for military purposes — and it was to these purposes, in the eight- 
eenth century, that it was most characteristically devoted. Its 
uses as a training-field, a drill-ground, were of course continuous. 
As early as 1709 we find these uses liberally extended by a young 
English army officer, Paul Mascarene, commanding an artillery 
company recruited at the time, who threw up small earthworks at 
the foot of the Common, and drilled his men at artillery practice. 
But far greater extensions were still to come, converting the Com- 
mon into a camp first for friendly, then for hostile troops. 

The Eighteenth Century 27 

I The War of the Revolution so overshadows the other military 
activities of the eighteenth century in America that it is easy to 
forget the conflicts with the French to the northward, and the part 
which Boston played in them. But before the Revolution Sir Wil- 
liam PepperelFs expedition against Louisburg, in 1745, seemed 
an undertaking of the first magnitude. It was but natural for the 
three thousand soldiers who sailed with him to have camped, before 
starting, on the Common. Early in July the news of the fall of 
Louisburg reached Boston. The joy of the people knew no bounds, 
and the celebration of the victory was by no means confined to the 
Common. Neither is the following account of it, taken from the 
"Boston Evening Post" of July 8, 1745. But the large bonfire for 
the "less polite," and the "good liquor" served on the Common, 
should not be torn from their graphic context: — 

"As Capt. Bennet arrived in the Night, he first carried the General 
and Commodore's Dispatches to His Excellency, then at Dorchester, 
and on his Return, communicated the joyful tidings to the Hon. 
Col. Wendell's Company of Militia, then on Duty as a military 
Watch, who, (not able longer to conceal their Joy) about 4 o 'Clock, 
alarm'd the Town, by firing their Guns and beating their Drums, 
and before five, all the Bells in the Town began to ring, and con- 
tinued ringing most part of the Day. The Inhabitants thus agree- 
ably surprised laid aside all thoughts of Business, and each one 
seem'd to strive to out-do his Neighbour in Expressions of Joy. 
Many Persons who were gone to Cambridge' to be present at the 
Commencement, came to Town to rejoice with us, as did many 
others from the Country, and the Day was spent in firing of Can- 

28 Boston Common 

non, feasting, and drinking of Healths, and in preparing Fire-works, 
&c. against the Evening. And to add to the Pleasures of the Day, 
Col. Pollard and his Company of Cadets were under Arms, and made 
a very fine Appearance. Now the Churl and the Niggard became 
generous, and even the Poor forgot their Poverty, and in the Eve- 
j ning the whole Town appeared as it were in a Blaze, almost every 
House being finely illuminated. In some of the principal Streets 
were a great variety of Fire- Works, and curious Devices for the 
Entertainment of the almost numberless Spectators, and in the 
Fields were several Bonfires for the diversion of the less Polite, 
besides a large one in the Common, where was a Tent erected, and 
plenty of good liquor for all that would drink. In a Word, never 
before, upon any Occasion, was observed so universal and unaffected 
a Joy; nor was there ever seen so many Persons of both Sexes at one 
Time walking about, as appeared that Evening, the Streets being 
as light as Day, and the Weather extremely pleasant. And what 
is very remarkable, no ill Accident happened to any Person, nor was 
there any of those Disorders committed, which are too common 
[on] such Occasions.' ' 

In September of the following year, 1746, the fear of the French 
fleet, the destruction of which is the theme of one of Longfellow's 
best ballads, brought sixty-four hundred men of the provincial 
militia into camp on the Common. Again, in 1758, when the "Old 
French War" was drawing to a close, a considerable army, about 
forty-five hundred men, returning from Louisburg under General 
Jeffrey Amherst, took the Common for its camping-place in Boston. 
"Between 30 and 40 Transports," said the "Boston Evening Post" 

The Eighteenth Century 29 

of Monday, September 18, 1758, "which came out under Convoy 
of the Captain Man of War, are also arrived, having on board the 
2d Battalion of Royal Scots, General Forbes's, Lascelle's, and Webb's 
Regiments, and also Fraser's Highlanders; they arrived here in good 
Health, and were all disembarked on Thursday Morning and en- 
camped on the Common; and on Saturday Morning they decamped 
and proceeded on their March for Lake George." 

Through the second decade after this first appearance of royal 
troops on the Common, the place was to know them well — all too 
well, the traditional Bostonian would have said. The red coats of 
the soldiery gave the Common its most distinctive color in the 
eighteenth century. They did not come with the very first occasions 
for active discontent with the rule of the Crown. The news of the 
Stamp Act of 1765 arrived before them, and they were not here 
when the repeal of the act was joyfully celebrated on the Common 
in 1766. The "Boston Post-Boy and Advertiser" for Monday, 
May 26, 1766, describes the scene: "Friday se'nnight to the in- 
expressible Joy of all we received by Capt. Coffin, the important 
News of the Repeal of the Stamp Act, which was signed by His 
Majesty the 18th of March last. ... In the Evening the whole 
Town was beautifully illuminated! — On the Common the Sons of 
Liberty erected a magnificent Pyramid, illuminated with 280 Lamps : 
The four upper Stories of which were ornamented with the Figures 
of their Majesties, and fourteen of the worthy Patriots who have 
distinguished themselves by their Love of Liberty. . . . 

"On the Top of the Pyramid was fix'd a round Box of Fireworks 
horizontally. About one hundred Yards from the Pyramid the Sons 

3<d Boston Common 

of Liberty erected a Stage for the Exhibition of their Fireworks, 
near the Work-House, in the lower Room of which they entertained 
the Gentlemen of the Town. John Hancock, Esq.; who gave a 
grand and elegant Entertainment to the genteel Part of the Town, 
and treated the Populace with a Pipe of Madeira Wine, erected at 
the Front of his House, which was magnificently illuminated, a 
Stage for the Exhibition of his Fireworks, which was to answer those 
of the Sons of Liberty: At Dusk the Scene opened by the Discharge 
of twelve Rockets from each Stage; after which the Figures on the 
Pyramid were uncovered, making a beautiful Appearance. — To 
give a Description of the great Variety of Fireworks exhibited from 
this Time till Eleven o'clock would be endless — the Air was filPd 
with Rockets — the Ground with Bee-hives and Serpents — and 
the two Stages with Wheels of Fireworks of various sorts. ... At 
Eleven o'clock the Signal being given by a Discharge of 21 Rockets, 
the horizontal Wheel on the Top of the Pyramid or Obelisk was 
play'd off, ending in the Discharge of sixteen Dozen of Serpents in 

the Air, which concluded the Shew The Pyramid, which was 

designed to be placed under the Tree of Liberty, as a standing 
Monument of this glorious ^Era, by accident took Fire about One 
o'clock, and was consum'd." 

Regarding this celebration of the welcome Repeal, John Rowe, 
a Boston merchant, wrote in his diary for May 19, 1766: "Mr. 
Hancock behaved very well on this occasion & treated every Person 
with Cheerfulness. I contributed as much to General Joy as Any 
Person. The whole was much admired & the day Crowned with 
Glory & honour." Who can help'wondering in what form Mr. Rowe's 
contribution to "General Joy" expressed itself? j 

The Eighteenth Century 31 

The joy was short-lived. In the very next year, 1767, the tax 
o"n tea was imposed, and discontent became general. There were 
many expressions of it, and naturally the Common was the back- 
ground for one of the most spectacular of them. On Friday, June 10, 
1768, the revenue officials seized a sloop belonging to John Hancock 
— a proceeding which excited high indignation among the people 
gathered on the shore. Their conduct is described in the "Boston 
Gazette and Country Journal" of Monday, June 20, 1768: "About 
10 o'Clock they went to one of the Docks, and dragged out a large 
Pleasure-Boat belonging to the Collector, this they drew along the 
Street with loud huzzaing all the way, into the Common, where 
they set Fire to it, and burnt it to Ashes; they also broke several 
Windows of the Houses of the Collector and Inspector-General, 
which were nigh the Common." Governor Bernard, describing 
the occurrence in a letter, said that the boat-burners "got some 
rum, and attempted to get more; if they had procured it in quantity 
God knows where this fury would have ended!" 

Manifestly the time was at hand for the stricter exercise of 
authority in Boston. The royal troops must come, and the Common 
must receive them. On September 30, 1768, two regiments, the 
14th and the 29th, landed at Long Wharf, marched up King [State] 
Street, and thence to the Common. The 29th encamped there, and 
in the evening the 14th proceeded to Faneuil Hall and was admitted. 
From this time up to the evacuation of Boston by the British, 
March 17, 1776, the Common was almost constantly a place of 
encampment. Regiments were coming and going — even as the 
first-comers, the 14th and the 29th, were obliged after the Tea 

32 Boston Common 

Party, in fulfilment of Adams's demand, "Both regiments or 

none," to go to the Castle. But the records are richer in comings. 

These continued up to June 15, 1775, only two days before Bunker 

Hill. They could be fully catalogued if any useful present purpose 

were so to be served. Even so long before Lexington and Bunker 

Hill as August 21, 1774, Lord Percy wrote home: "I have under my 

command, the 4th, 5th, 38th, & 43rd Reg ts , together with 22 pieces 

of cannon & 3 co s . of artillery encamped on the Common" — 

besides other troops on Fort Hill. On the Common, in these most 

crowded days, a population equal to that of a goodly village was 

gathered under canvas. It was a stirring scene and in a companion 

picture to that of Boston Common in 1630 Dr. Holmes has drawn 

it vividly: — 


The streets are thronged with trampling feet. 

The northern hill is ridged with graves, 
But night and morn the drum is beat 

To frighten down the "rebel knaves." 
The stones of King Street still are red, 

And yet the bloody red-coats come: 
I hear their pacing sentry's tread, 

The click of steel, the tap of drum, 
And over all the open green, 

Where grazed of late the harmless kine, 
The cannon's deepening ruts are seen, 

The war-horse stamps, the bayonets shine. 
The clouds are dark with crimson rain 

Above the murderous hirelings' den, 
And soon their whistling showers shall stain 

The pipe-clayed belts of Gage's men. 


The Eighteenth Century 33 

Such, in general, was the spectacle. Perhaps we shall see it the 
more clearly for attempting to fill in some of the details of the pic- 
ture. The darker tints are frequent enough. Let us seize at once, 
then, upon the bright color almost invariably associated with the 
Reverend Mather Byles, the Tory minister of the Hollis Street 
Church, inveterate punster and Doctor of Divinity by favor of the 
University of Aberdeen. In L. M. Sargent's enlivening "Dealings 
with the Dead" the following glimpses of the waggish clergyman on 
the Common may be found: "From the time of the stamp act, in 
1765, to the period of the Revolution, the cry had been repeated, 
in every form of phraseology, that our grievances should be redressed. 
One fine morning, when the multitude was gathered on the Common 
to see a regiment of red coats paraded there, who had recently 
arrived — 'Well,' said the doctor, gazing at the spectacle, *7 think 
we can no longer complain that our grievances are not red-dressed.' 
'True, 9 said one of the laughers who were standing near, 'but you 
have two d y s, Dr. Byles. 9 — 'To be sure, sir, I have,' the doctor in- 
stantly replied, 'I had them from Aberdeen, in 1765.' " 

If such flippancy was possible in the face of the soldiery, it is 
pleasant also to v know that the bucolic uses of the Common were 
not immediately stopped. In the "Boston Gazette" for July 17, 
1769, there is a notice of a small Red Cow, " Strayed away from the 
Common." With a truly revolutionary handling of the language 
of England, the notice ends: "Whosoever hath or shall stop said 
Cow, are desired to inform the Printers hereof, and they shall be 
Rewarded for their Trouble." 

Hardly more than a month of camp life on the Common had 

34 Boston Common 

passed, when a soldier, Richard Ames, in spite of the intercession 
of Boston ladies, was shot as a deserter and buried where he fell. 
Other military executions of desertion are recorded. In the "Bos- 
ton Evening Post," for Monday, September 12, 1774, we find, for 
example: "Last Friday Morning, one Valentine Ducket, a Deserter 
from the 65th Regiment, now at Halifax, was Shot in the Rear of 
the Camp in the Common, pursuant to the Sentence of a Court 
Martial." And in the "Diary of a British Officer," said to be Lieu- 
tenant John Barker of the 4th (King's Own) Regiment of Foot, 
there is the cheerless little entry for Saturday, December 24, 1774 : 
"Bad day; constant snow till evening, when it turned out rain and 
sleet. A Soldier of the 10th shot for desertion; the only thing done 
in remembrance of Christ-Mass Day." 

The people of Boston were not given then, as they are now, to 
Christmas celebrations. Other habits have had a longer continu- 
ance. As early as March of 1769 the Selectmen appointed a Com- 
mittee to consider, as other committees have so often considered 
since then, the best measures for "the preservation of the Com- 
mon." It was one thing to keep their own cattle on it; quite another 
to have the soldiers use it for Sunday horse-racing. The towns- 
people, however, even after the troops were long established there, 
continued to employ it for some of their own purposes. A strange 
use of it took place on the last Wednesday of May, 1770. The 
annual ceremonies attending the election of His Majesty's Council 
by the General Court were transferred, contrary to all precedent j 
from Boston to Cambridge. The General Court gathered there, 
the Election Sermon was preached by the Reverend Samuel Cooke; 

The Eighteenth Century 35 

but certain "friends to the liberties of North America" contrived 
to have the people themselves gather in Boston, largely on the 
Common. The "Boston Gazette and Country Journal'* for Mon- 
day, June 4, 1770, describes the events of the day: "The Morning 
was ushered in with Musick parading the Streets, and an Ox, 
which on the Afternoon before was conveyed thro' the Town deco- 
rated with Ribbons, Flowers, &c. was early put to the Fire at the 
Bottom of the Common; the Novelty of an Ox roasting whole, 
excited the Curiosity of the People, and incredible Numbers from 
this and the neighbouring Towns resorted to the Spot, to view so 
unusual a Spectacle." There was a sermon by the Reverend Dr. 
Chauncy on the text, "Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, 
and thou didst deliver them"; there was "an elegant Entertain- 
ment" in Faneuil Hall, "attended with that Chearfulness, Decency 
and good Order peculiar to the Favorites of Freedom and Science." 
Between five and six hundred gentlemen partook of the feast, and 
joined in the twenty-two prescribed toasts. The "Gazette," re- 
turning to the common people and the Common, bears this final 
record: "The poor of the Town were presented with the Ox which 
was Roasted for that purpose, and temperately shared in the 
Festivity of the Day." 

Two years later, in June of 1772, one finds other such indications 
that the Common was not wholly given over to the British troops 
as the preaching of a young countryman mounted on a stage, and 
the parade of the Boston militia companies in honor of the King's 
birthday. A month later, July 7, 1772, the diary of John Rowe 
describes the fine appearance of the Cadets and other militia on the 

36 Boston Common 

Common. On June 4 of the following year, 1773, John Andrews 
wrote in a letter from the house on Winter Street opposite the 
Common: "Am almost every minute taken off with the agreeable 
sight of our militia companies marching into the Common, as it is a 
general field-day with us." Evidently the troops of Old and New 
England could still appear in close proximity without the use of 
gunpowder. It is even a little surprising to find the British troops 
as tolerant as they were at the end of 1773, about a fortnight after 
the Tea Party. A family in Dorchester was suspected of rescuing, 
for its own ends, some of the tea-chests thrown into the harbor. 
In the "house of old Ebenezer Withington, at a place called Sodom, 
below Dorchester Meeting House," searchers in Indian garb "found 
part of a half chest which had floated, and was cast up on Dor- 
chester point. This they seized and brought to Boston Common 
where they committed it to the flames." The British soldiers could 
hardly have been blamed if they had interfered with this particular 
ceremony. Early in 1775 the time came when the Ancient and 
Honorable Artillery Company, wishing to parade, was refused 
admittance to the Common. 

Through 1774 there were many arrivals of fresh troops, and many 
new encampments on the Common. It was in July that Earl Percy 
came. Across the Common from the house he occupied, Clinton, 
arriving with Howe and Burgoyne and many reinforcements in 
May of 1775, took up his residence in John Hancock's house. In 
the interval between the coming of Percy and of Clinton, nothing of 
greater moment to the Colonies and England had happened than 
the affair of Lexington and Concord. It was from Boston Common, 

The Eighteenth Century 37 

between ten and eleven o'clock on the night of April 18, 1775, that 
"all the Grenadiers and Light Infantry of the Army" to use the 
words of Lieutenant Barker's diary — "making about 600 Men, 
(under the command of Lt. Coll. Smith of the 10th and Major 
Pitcairn of the Marines) embarked and were landed upon the 
opposite shore on Cambridge Marsh." It was to the Common that 
the more fortunate members of this expedition returned so pre- 
cipitately. It was from the Common that a large portion of the 
British troops who fought at Bunker Hill set forth on the morning 
of June 17. In trenches at the bottom of the Common many of 
these soldiers were buried when the day's work was done. 

After Bunker Hill, the siege which had begun after Lexington 
became closer. With the Common so thickly populated as it was, 
the conditions of life upon it grew less tolerable. The heat of sum- 
mer, the cold of winter — for it may be seen in the Andrews letters 
how difficult it was to persuade American workmen to build bar- 
racks for the troops for whom no adequate housing could be provided 
— caused many illnesses and deaths, especially among the women 
and children who followed the camp. There was always, moreover, 
a certain danger of attack from the American besiegers. One night 
of October, 1775, came the exploit described by Earl Percy in one 
of his letters to England, as "an experiment wh the Rebels tried 
with a piece of cannon or two in a flat-bottomed boat. With these 
they fired 15 or 20 shot thro* our camp into the Town, when alas, 
one of the cannon burst, blew up the boat & sent most of the crew 
to the Devil." Actually but one of the crew appears to have been 
killed, though eight were wounded. In the camp on shore, we learn 

38 Boston Common 

from Belknap's Journal, one man was killed. Altogether it was not 
an enviable life on the Common towards the end of the British 

The disposition of the troops on the Common and the manner of 
its fortification are described in every considerable account of 
Boston during the Revolution. These descriptions might be sum- 
marized anew, but to no better purpose than that which is served 
by copying one of the best of the existing summaries. "The posi- 
tions of the British defences and encampments on the Common 
during the winter of 1775-76" — says S. A. Drake in his "Land- 
marks of Boston" — "were as follows: A small earthwork was 
thrown up at the northwest corner, a little higher up than the 
present entrance on Charles Street; this was designed for infantry, 
and held by a single company. The little elevation mentioned by 
the name of Fox Hill [near the present * Centre Gate ' of the Public 
Garden on Charles Street] was nearly or quite surrounded by water 
at times, and was hence called the island; on this was a small re- 
doubt. At the southwest corner, at a point at high-water mark, — 
now intersected by Boylston Street extension, — was another 
breastwork for infantry. . . . On the westerly slope of the hill 
overlooking the parade, on which the flagstaff is now situated, was 
a square redoubt, behind which lay encamped a battalion of in- 
fantry; to the east, and on a line with the easternmost point of the 
hill, were two half-moons for small arms, with a second battalion 
in its rear. About opposite Carver Street, resting on the southwest 
corner of the burial-ground, was a bastioned work, directly across 
Boylston Street. This was the second line. On the hill formerly 

The Eighteenth Century 39 

known as Flagstaff Hill, but now dedicated to the soldiers' monu- 
ment, the artillery was posted, protected by intrenchments. Im- 
mediately behind this hill, stretching from the burial-ground across 
to Beacon Street Mall, were the camps of three battalions of in- 
fantry. . . . None of the works were formidable except the most 
southern, which was connected with the line on the Neck. The 
Common was an intrenched camp, with a regular garrison of 1750 

All this military life in a restricted territory must needs leave 
its physical traces. The soldiers required firewood, and took it 
from the fence about John Hancock's house, from the fence between 
the Great (afterwards Tremont Street) Mall and the Common as 
a whole, and from the trees that shaded this Mall. Their destruc- 
tion of these trees during the siege so disturbed the Selectmen that 
they persuaded General Howe to stop it. On the very morning of 
the evacuation it is reported that their wanton spirit wreaked itself 
in the cutting-down of several of the largest trees remaining. But 
it was not only overhead that the returning Bostonians who ac- 
companied or promptly followed Washington's army found the 
Common changed. The surface of the ground was badly scarred 
— with holes which had been used for cooking, with ditches round 
the hill now surmounted by the Soldiers' Monument, with the in- 
trenchments already mentioned. They remained, in diminishing 
clearness of outline, as mementoes of the British soldiery until the 
nineteenth century was well begun. Dr. Hale could even recall 
"playing soldier" as a boy in the redoubts left on Flag-Staff Hill; 
and Colonel Henry Lee, of the class of 1836 at Harvard, referred 

40 Boston Common 

in his later years to "the fortification on the Common — that was 
levelled when I was in College." 

After the evacuation there were still nearly twenty-five years 
of the eighteenth century to be passed, and through these years the 
Common continued its ancient service as the background of charac- 
teristic events. Here the bonfire which celebrated the surrender of 
Cornwallis lighted a multitude of happy faces. Here occurred the 
promiscuous milking of all the cows on the historic pasturage when 
Madam Hancock happened to need an unwonted supply of milk 
for the entertainment of guests suddenly arriving from the French 
fleet. Here, in the Frog Pond, the local tradition insisted that the 
common sailors of the fleet proved themselves true Frenchmen by 
hunting for frogs. There has been no attempt to enumerate every 
striking occurrence of the first three quarters of the eighteenth 
century; nor shall such an effort be made for the final fourth. The 
reasons for omitting many items may be less defensible than that 
which applies to the thrice-familiar story of the coasting boys and 
the British general. The true reason for its omission will be found 
on a bronze tablet fastened to the School Street fence of City Hall. 



IT was during the nineteenth century that the greatest changes 
in the physical aspect of the Common were wrought. From 
the almost treeless field, lending itself so serviceably to the pur- 
poses of His Majesty's troops, it has changed by degrees into the 
wooded park which, in large measure, it has now become. As the 
changes in any object are apt to work from the edges inward, so the 
most notable improvements in the Common began upon its borders. 
The Tremont Street Mall — which took the name of Lafayette 
after the beloved Frenchman's visit in 1824, and lost the glory of 
its trees when the Subway was built in 1895 — had its origin, as 
we have seen, before the eighteenth century was half gone. The 
planting of many of the trees on the Beacon Street Mall is closely 
associated with what was called in its day the "Madison War," 
an unpopular conflict in Federalist Boston. A sum, amounting to 
about twenty-five hundred dollars, was raised to build fortifications 
for the defence of the harbor. It was not all expended, and in 1816 
the elms, now venerable, which shade the walk along Beacon 
Street, and supplement those previously placed by John Hancock, 
in 1780, opposite his own house, were set out with the residue from 
this fund. In 1823 the first Mayor Quincy began the planting of 
the Charles Street Mall, completed the next year, and in 1826 re- 
placed the poplar trees along Park Street with the elms which now 
border its Mall. In 1836, under Mayor Armstrong, the Boylston 

42 Boston Common 

Street Mall was completed by absorbing a portion of the burial- 
ground, and for the first time the Common was entirely surrounded, 
as at present, with broad walks. The origin and names of the inter- 
secting paths across the Common would extend the catalogue of 
improvements far beyond our present limits. 

To balance these additions, there was one important subtrac- 
tion in the first third of the century — that of the cows, in 1830, 
by Mayor Otis. These ancient tenants of the Common were forced 
in the course of events to give way before a growing population of 
human beings. If it could no longer be recorded of youthful Emer- 
sons that one item of their daily chores was to drive the family 
cow to and from the Common, the past still survives in the restric- 
tion upon certain Mount Vernon Street real estate that a passage 
through and across it must be maintained ample enough for a cow 
to make its way towards the pasture of earlier days. 

The cows are gone, but the Frog Pond remains. It is not, to be 
sure, the rural pool which the beginning of the century found there, 
with shelving banks, and partly shaded by a pollard-willow leaning 
out across the water. The boys of Boston can no longer believe, 
like those of a hundred years ago, either that it is unfathomable or 
that a frigate could be floated upon it. In 1826 its shores were 
curbed, and the introduction of city water in 1848 robbed its sources 
of mystery. But a Bostonian still living in 1910 could recall 
drawing " shiners' ' and even horn-pout from its depths — or shal- 
lows; and continued to associate with the Frog Pond, as Dr. 
Holmes himself might conceivably have done, the couplet — 

Oh, what are the prizes we perish to win 

To the first little "shiner" we caught with a pin! 

The Nineteenth Century 43 

The changes that came within the Common during the nineteenth 
century certainly had their abundant counterparts in its surround- 
ings. On three out of four bordering streets the dwelling-houses 
have given place almost entirely to business, and the encroachment 
upon the fourth is well under way. Leaving out of account the 
purely modern structures to be seen across these streets, and the 
entire substitution of an urban for a marine view to the westward, 
the landmarks themselves, almost without exception, belong to 
what may be called the new order. The conspicuous exception is 
the State House, and that had stood but two years before 1800. 
Another landmark then existing disappeared when the Hancock 
house, to the sorrow of later generations, was destroyed in 1863. 
In the course of the nineteenth century, the dignified Colonnade 
Row of dwelling-houses facing the Tremont Street Mall came and 
went. In 1809 the Park Street Church came — and it has remained 
long enough to present a certain aspect of antiquity. As the build- 
ing in which Dr. Smith's "America" was first sung, it has long pos- 
sessed a distinctive association. It must have found waiting for it 
the winds for which in turn waited the excellent mot that makes its 
oft-repeated cry for the tethering of a shorn lamb on Brimstone 
Corner. The meeting-house and the winds, tempered somewhat by 
the familiar jest, have even lent themselves to the increase of local 
story. The era of good feeling between the older and the newer 
branches of the Congregational order could hardly have begun when 
the story was first told. A rhymed version of it is called 

44 Boston Common 


The Devil and a Gale of Wind 

Danced hand in hand up Winter Street. 
The Devil like his demons grinned 

To have for comrade so complete 
A rascal and a mischief-maker 
Who'd drag an oath from any Quaker. 

The Wind made sport of hats and hair 
That ladies deemed their ornament; 

With skirts that frolicked everywhere 
Away their prim decorum went; 

And worthy citizens lamented 

The public spectacles presented. 

The Devil beamed with horrid joy, 
Till to the Common's rim they came, 

Then chuckled, "Wait you here, my boy, 
For duties now my presence claim 

In yonder church on Brimstone Corner, 

Where Pleasure's dead and lacks a mourner; 

"But play about till I come back." 

With that he vanished through the doors, 

And since that day the almanac 

Has marked the years by tens and scores, 

Yet never from those sacred portals 

Returns the Enemy of Mortals. 

And that is why the faithful Gale 

Round Park Street Corner still must blow, 

Waiting for him with horns and tail — 
At least some people tell me so — ■ 

None of your famous antiquarians, 

But just some wicked Unitarians. 

The Nineteenth Century 45 

But it was the hand of man, and not the winds or any word of 
man concerning them, which made of the Common and its sur- 
roundings the admirable stage and setting for so many salient mani- 
festations of Boston life during the nineteenth century. It is both 
inevitable and refreshing to find that the chief associations of the 
Common, ever since the departure of the British troops, have been 
those of enjoyment. More than at any earlier time it became the 
local theatre of public ceremonies and spectacles, and of healthy 
play. A few glimpses of characteristic scenes will suggest something 
of the extent to which these valuable purposes have been served. 

Lafayette's visit in Boston in 1824 stands forth in local annals 
as an occasion of special splendor. The civic, academic, and social 
celebrations in honor of the visitor were not enough. On Monday, 
August 30, a great militia review took place on the Common, where 
two hundred tents were pitched, besides a great marquee for the 
shelter of twelve hundred persons at dinner. On the preceding 
Friday there had been a smaller ceremony in which Lafayette him- 
self bore a picturesque part. The New England Guards, a "crack" 
company of the day, invited him to attend their artillery practice 
on the Common. A target floated in the Back Bay, somewhere in 
the neighborhood of the present Berkeley or Clarendon Street. 
From the side of Flag-Staff Hill the cannon was pointed out across 
the marshes and water extending beyond Charles Street. The 
Governor and the visiting General "honored the company," as the 
"Advertiser" expressed it, "by firing each a gun with his own hand." 
The popular enthusiasm which every act and word of Lafayette's 
excited is almost beyond present comprehension. It may well be 

46 Boston Common 

imagined, then, with what interest his aim at the mark was watched, 
and with what delight the crowd soon saw that he had struck the 
target just a little above the centre. With such a friend, no wonder 
our War of Independence had succeeded! If he had missed — but 
no, the mind refuses to face such a possibility. When he returned 
to Boston, to be present at the laying of the corner-stone of the 
Bunker Hill Monument, on the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, 
June 17, 1825, it was from the Common — the point of departure 
of the British soldiers a half -century before — that the local troops 
started in the early morning on their march to Charlestown. 

In 1833 another distinguished visitor, General Andrew Jackson, 
came to Boston, and much has been written about the circumstances 
connected with his receiving the degree of LL.D. at Harvard. But 
the Common again took its place as the background of picturesque 
incident, recorded in the pages of Josiah Quincy's "Figures of the 
Past." In his capacity of special aide-de-camp to the President 
during his visit, and in preparation for the review of the Boston 
Brigade to take place on the Common on the afternoon of June 21, 
Mr. Quincy had secured trained parade-horses for the use not only 
of General Jackson, but of the Vice-President, Martin Van Buren, 
and members of the Cabinet and presidential suite. In the morning 
Van Buren announced that he and the other members of the Cabinet 
and suite would not appear at the review, and the horses, no longer 
required by the visitors, were promptly engaged by officers of the 
local militia. At the last moment the Vice-President and the others 
changed their minds, and such horses as could then be found were 
got for them, and with the help of military trappings were made 

The Nineteenth Century 47 

to look as warlike as possible. Let the original narrator go on with 
the story: "We mounted and proceeded to the field in good order; 
but the moment we reached the Common the tremendous discharge 
of artillery which saluted the President scattered the Cabinet in all 
directions. Van Buren was a good horseman and kept his seat; but, 
having neither whip nor spur, found himself completely in the 
power of his terrified animal, who, commencing a series of retro- 
grade movements of a most unmilitary character, finally brought 
up with his tail against the fence which then separated the Mall 
from the Common, and refused to budge another inch. In the 
meantime the President and his staff had galloped cheerfully round 
the troops and taken up their position on the rising ground near the 
foot of Joy Street, to receive the marching salute. ' Why, where 's 
the Vice-President?' suddenly exclaimed Jackson, turning to me 
for an explanation. * About as nearly on the fence as a gentleman 
of his positive political convictions is likely to get,' said I, pointing 
him out. I felt well enough acquainted with Jackson by this time 
to venture upon a little pleasantry. * That's very true,' said the 
old soldier, laughing heartily; 'and you've matched him with a horse 
who is even more non-committal than his rider.' " 

In the year of General Jackson's visit, 1833, the Indian chief 
Black Hawk was released from the imprisonment which had fol- 
lowed his defeat, the year before, in the Black Hawk War. Four 
years later, in 1837, he visited Boston with a company of his Sacs 
and Foxes. The community which had entertained so notable an 
Indian fighter as Jackson was hospitable also to the conquered 
Indians. On October 30, 1837, they were received at the State 

48 Boston Common 

House. The "Advertiser" of the next day tells something of the 
ceremony, and goes on to say that "the Governor and suite, with 
the Indian delegation, and the public officers, were escorted to an 
open square in the Common, where, for a considerable length of 
time, the warriors performed a great variety of war-dances, to the 
great amusement of an immense concourse of spectators. We have 
rarely witnessed so vast and dense a crowd, as were assembled about 
the State House, on the Common, and in the streets adjoining it. 
The crowd was often so excessive as apparently to endanger the 
lives of women and children, yet we have not heard that any one 
was injured." An eye-witness of the scene is reported as writing: 
"Their dresses of the skins of wild animals with the horns upon 
them, their weapons decorated with everything in savage use that 
could make a clatter and a frightful show, their hideous and gro- 
tesque manoeuvres, their wild onsets, their uncouth motions in the 
dance, and their unearthly yell, made them a most impressive 
spectacle." Emerson wrote of them in his Journal as "Our Picts," 
looking "as if the bears and catamounts had sent a deputation." 
They were attended by "several companies of the elite of the 
militia" — but the central fact that the crowd and the soldiery 
gathered to see a war-dance of authentic Indian braves on Boston 
Common is what renders the occasion memorable. 

In the following decade the "Water Celebration," October 25, 
1848, marked a civic achievement of the highest order. We take 
so completely for granted to-day our water-supplies in town and 
country that the introduction of a system of city water seems a 
commonplace. It was a different matter when the water of Lake 

The Nineteenth Century 49 

Cochituate was first rendered available for the daily uses of Boston 
citizens. A highly variegated procession paraded the streets, 
bringing its march to an end on the Common. There the Frog Pond 
became literally the centre of the stage, for the Mayor and other 
dignitaries took their place on a platform over the middle of it. 
When the water was turned on, and the fountain leaped high into 
the air, the school-children, assembled with representatives of every 
other element of the population, sang Lowell's Ode, written for the 
occasion, beginning "My Name is Water"; the bells rang, cannon 
were fired, rockets soared aloft; cheering, laughter, and even tears 
paid their spontaneous tribute to the completion of a great under- 
taking. Thirty-five years later, a school-boy's remembrances of 
the day provided the theme for an effective stanza in the verses 
read by the Honorable Robert S. Rantoul at a Latin-School dinner: 

Behold the stately pageant wind along the choking street! 

From mart and house-top streaming flags our civic feast-day greet! 

By the dark Frog-pond's mimic flood I see our cohorts drawn, 

As, line on line, by Beacon Hill, they tramp the sloping lawn. 

I feel October's eager air toy with each silken fold 

Of that bright flag whose "P.L.S." our modest legend told. 

I hear the bells, with clangorous tongue the waning day ring out; 

I watch the rockets' fiery trail — I catch the exultant shout 

That rolled — it seems but yester-e'en — along the Park Street crest 

Just as the red Autumnal sun sank in the purple west, 

From State House dome, down Flag-Staff Hill, to lazy Charles's banks — 

The wild huzza that scaled the sky from out those school-boy ranks, 

When from its base of molten bronze the crystal column rose! 

Long Pond, at last, by Blackstone's Spring, in iron arteries flows! 

And Boston claims her destined bride, the fair Cochituate, 

As Quincy turns the water on, in Eighteen Forty-Eight! 

50 Boston Common 

In September of 1851 the city celebrated with three days of 
festivity, known as the "Railroad Jubilee,'' the opening of railway 
connections with the Canadas and the West. From Washington 
came President Fillmore, with members of his Cabinet; and from 
Canada, Lord Elgin, then Governor-General of British North 
America, with his suite. On the first day, September 17, the Com- 
mon was merely the scene of a military review by the President. 
On the third day, Friday the 19th, it was the terminus of an elab- 
orate military, industrial, and civic procession, which passed, just 
before disbanding, between lines of five thousand school-children 
lining the Park Street, Beacon Street, and Charles Street Malls. 
"The appearance of this array of intelligent and happy boys and 
girls, extending more than a mile," says the writer of the official 
account of the Jubilee, "could not fail to make, upon every reflecting 
mind, a deep and most delightful impression." The reflecting mind, 
however, was not all that required satisfaction, and the parade was 
followed by a dinner for thirty-six hundred persons in a mammoth 
pavilion erected on a level space adjoining the Tremont Street Mall, 
opposite West Street. The flags of Great Britain and the United 
States adorned it without and within, where also a profusion of 
mottoes, some of them calling for the reciprocity of trade which is 
still an object of desire, prompted the diners to noble sentiments. 
There was no less a profusion of oratory — from Lord Elgin, Governor 
Boutwell, Edward Everett, Robert C. Winthrop, and others. Presi- 
dent Fillmore himself, obliged to leave the banquet early, called 
forth applause and cheering of special vigor when he declared: "I 
thought, when I entered your city, that I saw Boston in all its glory. 

The Nineteenth Century 51 

I knew that it had its 'merchant princes,' but I did not know until 
to-day, that it had its mechanic noblemen of nature." The "me- 
chanic noblemen" who had carried in the procession such mottoes 
as "A New Way to Raise the Wind," over the exhibit of the bellows- 
makers, and "The Country's Safe," over a truck-load of "Sala- 
mander Safes," must have regarded the President as a worthy 
fellow-craftsman, in phrase-making. 

The visit of Lord Renfrew, as King Edward VII of England styled 
himself when he visited Boston in October of 1860, called the Com- 
mon again into requisition for a military review. At one o'clock on 
Thursday the 18th, the Prince of Wales, dressed in the uniform of a 
colonel of the British Army, and mounted on Colonel T. Bigelow 
Lawrence's horse "Black Prince," which the sculptor Ball after- 
wards used as the model for the bronze charger of General Washing- 
ton in the Public Garden, reached the foot of Flag-Staff (now Monu- 
ment) Hill under an imposing escort, and was greeted by a salute 
of artillery. At about the same time a procession including the 
Mayor, representatives of the city government, and invited guests 
arrived on the small elevation south of Flag-Staff Hill. The Prince, 
attended by the Governor and his staff, and the members of his own 
suite, many of them in British uniforms, rode up and down the line 
of troops extending the whole length of the parade-ground and the 
Beacon Street Mall, and received the usual salutes. Then the entire 
division passed in review before the Prince. Jf he learned that the 
Independent Boston Fusileers left the line with all their officers 
because they imagined themselves wronged in the position assigned 
them, and that the captain of a Braintree company was placed under 

52 Boston Common 

arrest for bringing his men to the Common in their new gray uni- 
forms in defiance of an order to appear in the regulation dress worn 
by the other companies of their regiment, it may be hoped that he 
knew also of the military executions required to maintain the dis- 
cipline of the British troops encamped on the same field eighty-five 
years before. 

These ceremonies, with others which are best recalled through 
old-time prints, were the exceptional splendors of the Common. 
Every year there were lesser glories, diminishing, to be sure, as 
the century wore on. The General Election of State officers was 
moved from the time-honored last Wednesday in May. The annual 
Muster or Training of local militia, formerly held in October, has 
passed with the passing of the "fuss and feathers" period in mili- 
tary life; yet the parade-ground is still of service in the long after- 
noons of spring for the drilling of local companies of the State 
militia. The Artillery Election, early in June, has an importance 
relatively far smaller than of old. Even the Fourth of July, with the 
increased facilities for getting away from city celebrations, and now 
with a River Basin for the display of fireworks, is by no means what 
it was. Through a considerable part of the nineteenth century, 
however, all of these festivals were enthusiastically observed upon 
the Common — for the time being a place of special delight to the 
juvenile members of the population. The Malls, separated from 
the rest of the Common by fences, were crowded with "attractions." 
Between the inner and outer fence — on the edge of the street — 
the venders of holiday refreshments put up their tents and plied 
their trades. On the Tremont Street Mall, we are told, there were 

The Nineteenth Century 53 

three rows of tents — "the easterly row for candy-sellers, the middle 
generally for cake and bun-venders, and the westerly row for the 
ancient election beverages, which were the freest liquid used on gala 
days." From the other attractions of the place the Punch and Judy 
shows long survived, and the exhibitor of astronomical wonders — 
Dr. Holmes's "Galileo of the Mall" — still swept the skies in 1910. 

The public conscience was less sensitive in earlier days than at 
present, and on July 4, 1810, the town itself is reported to have 
supplied four hogsheads of rum for public consumption. Children 
were allowed a latitude of diet which would fill a modern parent with 
consternation. It is no wonder that Dr. Hale, after describing in 
his "New England Boyhood," the melange of tamarinds, dates, 
oysters, candy, "John Endicotts," ginger and spruce beer, in which 
the boys of his generation indulged themselves, exclaimed, "Why 
we did not all die of the trash we ate and drank on such occasions, 
I do not know." But the community and the boys seem to have 
been all young and happy together, and never to have realized what 
perils they were escaping. As everything grew older and more re- 
spectable, the grog and gambling and other doubtful diversions were 
banished, and the visitor to the Common upon a modern Fourth of 
July must needs add to the spectacle of booths and holiday-makers 
a liberal mixture of imagination if he would see the Common in its 
former glory. 

Between the two election days — the General and the Artillery 
— there was a deep gulf fixed. The first, absolutely democratic, 
was vulgarly called " Nigger 'Lection." On the second, white persons 
only were allowed on the Common. The injustice of the distinction 

54 Boston Common 

so exasperated the negro cook and steward of the ship Canton 
Packet, belonging to the Perkins brothers, that when he was left 
in charge of the vessel while the captain and crew went to the 
Common for the enjoyment of the Artillery Election day of 1817, 
he fired a pistol into the ship's powder and blew her, and himself, 
to pieces. 

For the losses of picturesqueness more or less directly affecting 
the Common during the past century, there have been some com- 
pensating gains. Dr. Hale described the four chief functions of the 
Common in his boyhood as (1) a pasture for cows, (2) a playground 
for children, (3) a place for beating carpets, and (4) a training-ground 
for the militia. On the first and last of these uses something has 
already been said. On the third it is hardly necessary to dwell. 
The second, on the contrary, might almost serve by itself as the 
subject for a small volume. At a time when there was little of 
Boston except "Boston Proper," when the present outlying parks, 
avenues, and water-fronts were unknown, inaccessible, or remote 
from population, the Common provided the inevitable outlet for 
the energies of the young. It is safe to say, moreover, that just 
because it was the playground of so many Bostonians of the older 
generation, it has taken a hold upon their affections and imagina- 
tions which time has not relaxed. They look back upon it, much as 
they remember the country holidays of childhood, with a peculiar 
fondness. And why should they not? There was the Frog Pond for 
the water-supply of firemen's play-outs, for the sailing of toy boats 
in summer, for skating in winter. There was the fishing Stone near 
the Joy Street gate, a rough rock on and round which it was the 

The Nineteenth Century $$ 

custom to perform certain ritual observances in the belief that 
wishes made upon their completion would come true. There was 
the popular sport of kite-flying. Mr. J. D'W. Lovett, in his admir- 
able "Old Boston Boys and the Games they Played," tells of the 
special skill of Dr. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, mayor and historian, 
among the gentlemen who made and flew kites for their children, 
and recalls especially several kites "which resembled owls with large, 
blinking eyes, and which were most effective in the air." There was 
hockey, and there was baseball. Mr. Lovett, a famous player in his 
day, records even the part which the devotees of the national game 
as played on the Common took in a city election. The ground was 
ploughed up in the spring of 1869 and the game discontinued. In 
December came the election of Mayor and Aldermen. The ball-, 
players set about to do what they could for the choice of candidates 
known to favor athletic sports and the old uses of the Common. 
They printed a non-partisan ticket, under the emblem of a red ball, 
distributed this ballot with proper exhortations at the polls, and 
had the satisfaction of seeing Mayor Shurtleff, antiquary and maker 
of kites, returned to office. 

Above all there was coasting. Again in Mr. Lovett's pages it is 
graphically pictured. The sleds, beautifully made, and bearing 
such fanciful names as "Comet," "Cave Adsum," and "Dancing 
Feather," were objects of admiration and pride. Racing was the order 
of the day. The cry of "Lullah" cleared the track. The "Long 
Coast," from the corner of Park and Beacon Streets to the West 
Street entrance and along the Tremont Street Mall, was the fav- 
orite course, though the Beacon Street Mall, the path from Joy 

56 Boston Common 

Street, and the Mil still dedicated to coasting, were also used. In 
earlier times, when Dr. Hale was young, the smallest boys coasted 
on the Park Street Mall. In the seventies the double-runner, or 
double-ripper, came into popularity. Sleds of this type were often 
elaborate structures. In the "Globe" for January 27, 1875, the 
first appearance of the "Highlander" on the Common was described: 
"It is a long double-runner of the usual pattern, painted red, with 
a head-light like a juvenile locomotive, and a steering apparatus on 
the tiller principle. It is cushioned quite elegantly, and has side 
rests for the feet of the coasters, of whom it will accommodate eight 
or ten. A large white streamer ornaments the prow, and there are 
brass trimmings and handles along the sides." The "Herald," of 
the same day places the cost of the "Highlander" at two hundred 
and fifty dollars. With the increase of these monster sleds, the 
roping-off of the coasts became a necessity for safety; and where the 
lengthwise paths of the Common crossed the coasts, bridges for 
foot-passengers were erected. But in spite of precautions, accidents 
became too frequent, and coasting in this more elaborate form was 
stopped. Though life and limb were henceforth more secure, one 
of the most characteristic local spectacles disappeared. 

A safer employment of the Common was made by the many 
Bostonians of the nineteenth century who made a practice of walk- 
ing round the outside of it every morning before breakfast. Daniel 
Webster is remembered as one of these, and Edward Everett, with 
his son William fitting his boyish stride to the paternal measure. 
Rufus Choate in this morning promenade is said to have studied 
his German. The walks of the Common have, indeed, been indefi- 

The Nineteenth Century 57* 

nitely useful. In one of them Emerson urged upon Whitman the 
omission of portions of his "Leaves of Grass," and Whitman, know- 
ing that he could never hear the argument better presented, went 
his way unmoved. In another, the Long Path, the Schoolmistress 
and the Autocrat began their walking of the long path of life to- 
gether, and were greeted by the old gentleman who "said, very 
charmingly, 'Good-morning, my dears!'" As early as 1821 a 
"Surveyor and Topographer," John G. Hales, printed in his "Survey 
of Boston and Its Vicinity" a "Table showing the rate per hour a 
person is moving by the time taken to pass the long Mall from the 
fence on Park Street to the fence on Boylston Street." The first of 
twenty entries shows that a speed of one mile an hour is attained 
by taking 19 minutes 8.86 seconds for "passing through the Mall." 
This snail's pace is gradually quickened till ten miles an hour is 
scored by covering the distance in 1 minute, 54.85 seconds. To see 
a good Bostonian, with Hales's little book and an open watch in his 
hands, making his ten miles an hour down the Tremont Street Mall 
would have been quite as exciting as the later spectacle of coasting. 

Safer even than walking were the pleasures of watching the ani- 
mals in the Deer Park which from 1863 to 1882 was maintained on 
the Boylston Street Mall between the Burial-Ground and Tremont 
Street; and of repairing to the Smokers' Retreat or Circle which 
flourished soon after the middle of the century for the benefit of 
lovers of tobacco forbidden to enjoy it on the Common as a whole. 

The pomp and circumstance of special events, the daily pleasures 
and pursuits of Boston life, ran their course on the Common through 
the nineteenth century just as the men of that vanished and vanishing 

58 Boston Common 

time led their individual lives. The life of every nineteenth-centiiry 
American whose period of maturity included the four years of the 
Civil War is inevitably scrutinized for the part he bore in the con- 
flict, or at least for his attitude towards it. But places as well as 
men may be subjected to this special scrutiny — and the Common 
emerges from it as a place of poignant association with the ardors 
and the pathos of the war-time. 

Even before the storm broke, there was a foretaste, in the summer 
of 1860, when Ellsworth's Zouaves visited Boston, of what was 
coming. Their drill on the Common, on July 23, must have given 
an unfamiliar impression of fighting men. Not only their bizarre 
uniform, but their remarkable dexterity in the manual of arms, 
distinguished their exhibition sharply from previous military per- 
formances. The spectators are said to have numbered fifteen or 
twenty thousand, including many ladies and representatives of 
local military bodies. The visitors, after the manner of La Tour's 
Frenchmen in 1643, brought their drill to a sensational close, ac- 
cording to the "Advertiser" of the following day, "with a grand 
zouave charge in which they made a violent rush towards the spec- 
tators, accompanied with a savage yell, which caused them to beat 
a hasty retreat, but the order to halt was given before the bristling 
bayonets reached the line." The interest in the entire spectacle 
could hardly have been keener had it been known that Colonel Ells- 
worth himself, within a year, was to be among the first of the con- 
spicuous officers to perish in the Union cause. 

The days were indeed at hand when the Common was to be used 
less for mimic warfare than for a rallying-point of soldiers departing 

The Nineteenth Century 59 

for actual battle or returning from it. The immediate response of 
Massachusetts to the President's first call for troops on the fall of 
Fort Sumter gave scanty time for display. But for a severe storm 
on Tuesday, April 16, the gathering companies would have as- 
sembled on the Common, instead of in Faneuil Hall. On Wednes- 
day the 17th Governor Andrew gave God-speed from the steps of 
the State House to the first armed troops moving from the North — 
to the Sixth Regiment, about to fight its way through Baltimore, 
to the Fourth and the Third, sailing direct for Washington and 
Fortress Monroe. At noon of the 19th the Light Artillery fired a 
salute on the Common in memory of the Battle of Lexington. Later 
in the day the companies of the Fifth Regiment began to gather 
there, and from this time forward the thoughts of "battles long 
ago" gave place to the immediate concerns of the country. It 
would be impossible in the present space to chronicle all the fare- 
wells to departing regiments, the offerings of rest and food to Maine 
and New Hampshire troops on their passage through Boston, the 
delight of boys permitted to fill the soldiers' canteens, the recruiting 
activities, the receptions to returning regiments, the musterings-out 
— all the war-time scenes enacted on the Common. The records 
of the period overflow with them. Here it must suffice to point out 
a few of the most salient and characteristic. j 

\ The day on which the first departure from Boston of a regiment 
enlisted for three years took place — June 15, 1861 — was hot and 
sultry. Wearing their overcoats, the men of the First Massachusetts 
Regiment marched in the early morning from Camp Cameron in 
North Cambridge to the Common. Exhausted as they were on 

60 Boston Common 

their arrival, there were trying experiences ahead. A multitude of 
friends, parents, wives, and sweethearts, assembled on the borders 
of the parade-ground, roped off on all but the Charles Street side. 
From the "Advertiser" of June 17 it appears that the crowd on this 
side began the advance upon the troops. "The line swayed to and 
fro a few moments," writes the regimental historian, "and then, 
over the rope, in every direction, the earnest and excited mass of 
humanity plunged; and much more speedily than it takes to write 
it, officers, soldiers, and civilians were mixed up in one immense 
throng of people, weeping, laughing, embracing, clinging to one 
another, and presenting here and there scenes so affecting, that the 
recollection of them is as fresh and vivid to-day as on the evening 
when they transpired." A veteran officer of the regiment, now an 
octogenarian, 1 said recently in describing the scene: "I myself did 
what I should never think of doing now — I kissed several young 
women I had never seen before." At last about two thirds of the 
regiment fell into line, and the remainder straggled along with the 
crowd of spectators to the Providence Station, where a banner which 
could not be given to the regiment in the confusion on the Common 
was duly presented. Nearly three years later, on May 28, 1864, 
the First Massachusetts was mustered out of service on Boston 

A month after the departure of the First Massachusetts, the 
Twelfth, known as the Webster Hegiment and commanded by 
Daniel Webster's son Fletcher, came up to the Common, on July 

1 When these words were written, Dr. Samuel A. Green, to whom they refer, 
was still living. 

The Nineteenth Century 61 

18, 1861, from Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, to receive a banner. 
The speech of presentation was made by Edward Everett, and 
Colonel Webster replied on behalf of his regiment. There was a 
drill both before and after the generous "collation" which the 
city provided for the men under the trees of the Beacon Street 
Mall and for the officers under a large marquee. The legend that 
the song of "John Brown's Body" was first sung on Boston Common 
has its origin in the doings of this day. Apparently the song was 
made at Fort Warren by members of the Second Battalion of Massa- 
chusetts Infantry, known as "The Tigers," many of whom enlisted 
in the Twelfth Regiment. "It was this regiment," says Mr. Louis 
C. Elson, in "The National Music of America," "that bore the song 
to popularity." As they marched down State Street from the 
Common on the evening of July 18, to reembark for Fort Warren, 
"the order 'route step' was given" — said the "Advertiser" of the 
next morning — "and the men broke out into the now popular 
'John Brown Army Hymn,' by way of enlivening the rest of their 
march." The words "now popular" indicate clearly that the song 
was already making its way. The regiment was soon ordered to the 
front — and Mr. Elson writes that he "has spoken with many 
people who first heard the tune, and in a manner which imprinted 
it forever in their memory, on Boston Common, when Colonel 
Fletcher Webster's men marched across it on their way from Fort 
Warren to the Providence depot, to take cars for New York." 
They sang it again, says Mr. Elson, on Broadway in New York, 
and "sang it into the war." From the "History of the Twelfth 
Massachusetts Volunteers" we learn that on the day of final depar- 

62 Boston Common 

ture from Fort Warren (July 23) the song was sung on State Street 
and "again near the Common." Whether "near" or "across" 
preserves the accurate truth of history, surely this association of 
the song with the Common may be held in close companionship 
with the first singing of "America" in Park Street Church, within 
hearing distance of the same plot of ground. 

The catalogue of departures might be extended to great length, 
but it may not be cut short without at least a mention of the passing 
of Colonel Shaw's Fifty-Fourth (colored) Regiment before Governor 
Andrew on the State House steps, May 28, 1863, its march down 
Beacon Street in front of strongholds of conservatism which looked 
with doubtful eyes upon the affiliation of black and white, its re- 
view upon the Common, where Frederick Douglass saw two of his 
sons in the ranks. In spite of the doubting few, the heart and soul 
of the community marched with the regiment to Battery Wharf 
in the afternoon, and followed the white officers and their black 
men into the fateful South. The feeling not only of this day, but 
of those others when the Fifty-Fifth Infantry and the Fifth Cavalry 
started from the Common to the front, lives on in the bronze of 

In the summer of 1862 the Common became an important head- 
quarters for recruiting. On the Fourth of July the President called 
for three hundred thousand men to enlist for three years, or until 
the war should end. A Citizens' Committee of One Hundred and 
Fifty took the matter in hand. A recruiting tent was put up oppo- 
site West Street on the Common, and on the parade-ground music- 
stands and platforms for speakers were erected. A series of en- 

The Nineteenth Century 63 

thusiastic meetings took place towards the end of July. At one of 
them, on the 28th, a dissenter from the patriotic expressions of 
Mr. Patrick Rafferty of the Thirty-Third Regiment was seized by 
the crowd and thrown into the Frog Pond. The largest meeting 
of all occurred on August 27. "On no occasion which the war has 
given rise to," said the "Advertiser," "has the expression of the 
people been so general and so marked by patriotic fervor as in the 
grand celebration of yesterday. Business was universally suspended 
by common consent, and the suggestion for a procession and mass 
meeting in aid of the city recruitment met with a hearty response. 
. . . The affair was essentially popular; men in citizens' dress and 
distinguished only by the badges of their respective callings, and the 
colors and mottoes which symbolize the common cause, united in 
the long procession, and listened to the eloquent appeals from the 
various stands on the Common. . . . Early in the afternoon the 
various associations proposing to join in the procession began to 
assemble on the Common near Park Street. . . . The various civic 
and military organizations entered the Common by the West Street 
gate and were at once conducted into line by the Marshals. The 
procession was formed and paraded through the city in accordance 
with the well-arranged programme." There were stirring addresses 
from the three stands on the Common by Governor Andrew, Edward 
Everett, Robert C. Winthrop, and others, including a Kentucky 
general and a California Senator. 

If the assembling and dispatching of troops to the South provoked 
enthusiasm, the spirit in which they were welcomed home again 
may well be imagined. The receptions to returning regiments 

64 Boston Common 

began very early in the war, for the first enlistments were for the 
briefest of periods. The Third and Fourth Regiments were back in 
Boston on July 23, 1861; the Fifth and Sixth returned on July 30 
and August 1 respectively. Of course they were marched to the 
Common, reviewed and cheered by the excited crowd. But before 
' the mustering-out — followed in many cases by immediate reenlist- 
ment — the men were fed at tables on the Beacon Street Mall. 
After the "bountiful collation" mentioned in the "Advertiser" of 
August 2, 1861, describing the reception of the Sixth Regiment, it 
is said that "the soldiers strolled about the Common, talking with 
friends and acquaintances. Those who were so unfortunate as not 
to have any, soon succeeded in making both out of the crowd who 
were anxious to hear all the news that was to be heard." These 
earliest regiments returned far less impaired than those which fol- 
lowed them. The thinned ranks, the torn and blood-stained flags 
soon began to make their piteous appeal on the Common. It is 
easy to picture it all, and remembering those who looked in vain for 
the unreturning, to fill in many details of personal tragedy. 

These spectacles were presented over and over again, even until 
the summer and autumn of 1865. A typical reception — and one 
shall speak for many — is described in the "Advertiser " of Thursday, 
June 11, 1863, telling of the return of the Forty-Fourth on the 
preceding day. The regiment was marched to the Common, where 
a great crowd, especially on the Charles Street Mall, was gathered 
to greet it. There were military salutes and an exchange of speeches 
between the Mayor and Colonel Lee. "The guns were then stacked, 
and the men broke ranks. At this moment the ladies could restrain 

The Nineteenth Century 65 

their feelings no longer. Propriety gave way to nature, and they 
rushed with open arms upon lovers, brothers, husbands, sons — 
and perhaps cousins — a female avalanche of streaming ribands 
and fluttering silks. The brave fellows stood the shock like men. 
They deployed as skirmishers and attempted to foil the attacking 
party with their own weapons, but were presently captured and 
led, willing prisoners, to the refreshment-tables, where a tempting 
array of flowers and edibles was presented. The male relatives 
presently came in for their share of the greeting. After an hour or 
so spent in social conversation, in affectionate questions and affec- 
tionate answers, the men were again brought into line and went 
through with a dress-parade, to the great satisfaction of the spec- 
tators. The regiment was then dismissed and the men will have a 
furlough till Monday, when they will probably go to Readville and 
be mustered out of the service." 

In addition to all these occasions involving an element of strong 
personal feeling, there were observances of great events in the prog- 
ress of the war. On April 11, 1862, a few days after the battle of 
Shiloh, a salute of one hundred guns was fired on the Common in 
honor of recent victories. On July 8, 1863, the news from Gettys- 
burg and Vicksburg gave the excuse for a national salute of thirty- 
five guns. The Emancipation Proclamation was celebrated by a 
salute of a hundred guns. When the sailors from the Russian war 
vessels Vitiaz and Osliaba visited Boston Common on June 8, 1864, 
their reception, the collation, the greeting of the Latin and High 
School boys, all gave expression to a national response to the friend- 
liness of the great northern power. The news of the fall of Rich- 

66 Boston Common 

mond on April 3, 1865, was celebrated by a salute on the Common; 
and then to Boston, as to all the North, came the sudden turning 
from joy to sorrow. The minute guns on the day of Lincoln's funeral, 
April 19, were as unlike those of a fortnight before as the tolling can 
be unlike the pealing of bells. In the afternoon the citizens of the 
six northern wards of the city met on the Common. Again there 
were stands for speakers, but the words were the words of mourning. 
Again there was music, but the bands were playing dirges. Here, as 
everywhere else, the national grief was touched with that strange 
personal quality always inseparable from the influence of Lincoln. 

With the transfer of the battle-flags of Massachusetts regiments 
to the keeping of the Commonwealth, on December 22, 1865, when 
the military representative of the State established his headquarters 
for their reception on the Park Street Mall, the specific war-time 
uses of the Common may be said to have come to an end. In no 
period of all its history have four successive years seen it so vitally 
bound up with the inmost life of the community. The bas-reliefs 
at the foot of Martin Milmore's Army and Navy Monument, 
erected on Flag-Staff Hill in 1877, tell something of the great events 
which these pages have sought to recall; and the noble words of 
President Eliot's inscription pass the meaning of them on to future 

There were few events in the remaining years of the nineteenth 
century which call for extended chronicle. In the centennial year, 
1876, the celebration of the Fourth of July thronged the malls with 
booths, the Common itself with multitudes of holiday-makers. It 
was estimated that between fifty and a hundred thousand persons 

The Nineteenth Century 67 

crowded it at night to see a display of fireworks which was to have 
been unusually splendid, but because of a high wind proved a dis- 
appointment. The loss of what might have been was, however, a 
slight affair compared with the loss of so beloved a possession as the 
Great Elm. On February 15, 1876, this ancient tree, already badly 
mutilated by storms of 1860 and 1869, fell before a high wind. The 
newspapers of the succeeding days are fairly humid with the tears of 
local poets. A glory had indeed departed from Israel. The measure- 
ments of the tree by the City Engineer in 1855 showed its height to 
be seventy-two feet, six inches; its girth one foot above the ground, 
twenty-two feet, six inches; the average diameter of its spread where 
the branches were broadest, one hundred and one feet. Whether the 
true scion of the Old Elm is now growing in its place, or — as there 
is good reason to believe — at a point near by and unmarked, the 
making of such another tree is a work for the centuries to accomplish. 
The loss of the Old Elm may have served a good purpose in 
making the community more tenacious of all its other possessions 
in the Common. Salvations from one threatened encroachment 
after another have occupied many Bostonians for a generation 
past. A Western observer looks reverently upon it as "a civic 
ornament for which people have fought, bled, and written letters 
to the 'Evening Transcript.' " As early as 1869 the city gave its 
permission for the erection of a building for a great musical festival; 
but the popular feeling against such an employment of land on the 
Common was so strong that the famous "Peace Jubilee" took place 
elsewhere. After the Boston fire of 1872, when merchants strewed 
the Common with the rescued contents of their warehouses, the 

68 Boston Common 

building of temporary stores was authorized. It was not found prac- 
ticable or necessary to take advantage of the permission, though 
on this occasion local sentiment would probably have acquiesced. 
Not so in 1873, when the demand for more horse-car tracks on 
Tremont Street led to the removal of the Common fence: the next 
year it was restored. Again, in 1877, the Massachusetts Charitable 
Mechanics' Association was warmly supported in its appeal for 
the right to put up a temporary exhibition building on the parade- 
ground. But the project was quite as warmly opposed, and those 
who opposed it, in public hearings, remonstrances, spoken and 
written, won the day. Whenever the Common cried out to be saved, 
there was an army ready to save it. 

As the century drew to a close the conduct of a modern city 
raised new problems. With a large business population sleeping 
out of town and carried by electric cars to the high office-buildings 
rising on every hand, the conditions of street-traffic, especially on 
Tremont Street, became unbearable. Various solutions of the dif- 
ficulty were proposed — the widening of Tremont Street, the exten- 
sion of surface cars across the Common in a line with Columbus 
Avenue, or through an open trench with overhead bridges for 
pedestrians. "Save the Common" again became a slogan — and 
the form of salvation finally adopted, as the plan involving least 
of actual loss, was the building of the present Subway, begun in 
1895. The chief loss of outward beauty lay in supplanting the ven- 
erable trees along Tremont Street with the broken row of Subway 
stations. But the problem was, to face the future without doing 
more than the inevitable violence to the past. 

The Nineteenth Century 69 

One violence there was, of a rather gruesome sort. When the 
Boylston Street Mall was opened in 1836 it covered a num- 
ber of tombs and graves in the Common Burial-Ground. In 
the excavation for the Subway these were necessarily disturbed. 
The care of the human fragments which came to light was entrusted 
to Dr. Samuel A. Green, who estimated that the bones brought 
together and decently reinterred represented more than nine hun- 
dred persons. Among them — as if justice were always to have its 
poetic vindication — must have been the progenitors of an owner 
of one of the Boylston Street tombs who violently resisted the im- 
provements of 1830. He is said to have told the Mayor that "he 
would stand at the door of his tomb with a drawn sword before it 
should be closed, or the bones of his ancestors removed ! " Persuaded 
finally to accept in exchange one of the new tombs along the walk 
from Park Square to West Street, he replied to the Mayor's sugges- 
tion that a sexton be engaged to make the solemn transfer: "Mr. 
Mayor, you don't suppose I'm going to have my new tomb dirtied 
up with those old bones! No, close up the old one and let 'em be!" 

New tombs and old bones — the moralist could draw his parallels 
without number from these starting-points. But that attempt at 
draughtsmanship shall not be undertaken here. Between 1800 and 
1900 the old Common gave place entirely to the new. The essen- 
tials were still there when he nineteenth century ended, and in 
general they had gained much from the passage of time and from 
pious care. With this gain there was also transmitted to the twen- 
tieth century a rich store of memories and associations making the 
Common dearer than ever to its inheritors. 




HE fourth century in which Boston Common has been 

Boston Common is still so fractional a thing that a few 
pages will hold all that needs to be said about it. One fact may be 
stated without reservation. It was a fortunate thing that Boston 
in the year 1900 had as one of its most conspicuous citizens Dr. 
Edward Everett Hale. The town was correspondingly fortunate 
to have Judge Samuel Sewall in the year 1700. The two men had 
many points of obvious unlikeness; but they were alike in standing 
each as a vigorous and individual representative of his own day. 
We have seen with what results Judge Sewall interested himseli 
in welcoming the eighteenth century on Boston Common. It was 
characteristic of Dr. Hale not only to recall the page of SewalFs 
diary for January 1, 1701, but also to translate its suggestion into 
the terms of modern life. The resulting celebration of the entrance 
of the present century stands by itself in the annals of the Common. 
At a quarter before the midnight hour of December SI, 1900, 
there were gathered on the balcony of the State House, lighted by 
swinging lanterns, nearly two hundred singers from the Handel and 
Haydn and the Cecilia Societies, four cornet-players, — the nearest 
available approach to the trumpeters of Sewall's time, — Governor 
Crane, Dr. Hale, and a few others. The trumpeters sounded 
"tattoo" or "taps" — the "Transcript" and Dr. Hale's notes 
written the next day differ on this point — and the great assembly, 

The Twentieth Century 71 

crowding the State House yard and the streets, and stretching far 
off into the Common, sang a stanza of Old Hundred, "Be Thou, O 
God, exalted high." Selections from the Ninetieth Psalm — "A 
thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, 
and as a watch in the night," "So teach us to number our days that 
we may apply our hearts unto wisdom " — these and other verses 
were then read by Dr. Hale. "People were still as death," he wrote 
the next day. "The balcony and people made a good sounding- 
board. My voice was all right, and I read very slowly. I have 
since seen people who were nearly as far away as Winter Street 
who heard me. [I have been asked a hundred times if I used a mega- 
phone. But here is simply an illustration of the power of the human 
voice if the listeners will keep still.] " On this reading followed the 
singing of Sewall's Hymn, written two centuries before. The invo- 
cation of its second line, "Tame Thou therigorof our clime," seemed to 
be answered in what the "Transcript" called the "unseasonable but 
opportune warmth of the night." Then the trumpeters again — 
and silence till the King's Chapel bell began to strike the midnight 
hour, so slowly that a blast on the trumpets could be blown between 
the strokes. The new century was here — welcomed also from 
every part of the city with bells and whistles. But the ceremony 
on Beacon Hill lasted a few minutes longer while all the people, from 
Governor to newsboys, joined in saying the Lord's Prayer, singing 
"America," and listening in silence to the final words of Dr. Hale, 
"God bless our city, our State, and our country." The trumpets 
then sounded the reveille and the people quietly dispersed to their 
homes. "I do not think they thought of it as a religious service 

72 Boston Common 

when they came," said Dr. Hale, "but they all did when they went 
away." The night endures in memory as something impressively 
serious, democratic, and unifying in its appeal both to the historic 
and to the civic sense. 

Thus begun, the new century has dealt with Boston Common 
much as it is dealing with everything else in the world. There has 
been no sudden turning of a corner, no opening of new vistas from 
a hilltop laboriously gained. The life of the community moves, as 
it has always moved, across the familiar paths and open spaces. 
The Common is still a place of recreation for young and old. The 
summer and winter sports exercise all their ancient spell. Up and 
down the well-trod walks the pursuit of business and of pleasure, 
and of the two made one, is steadily continued. The benches ac- 
commodate the unwillingly and .the willingly unemployed, the 
representatives of a great leisure class, in ever-increasing numbers. 
Pigeons and squirrels learn day by day that the people of Boston go 
armed with nuts and biscuit, and not with implements of destruc- 
tion. For those who would feed the mind and spirit with a varied 
dietary, there are the Sunday afternoon orators, offering sustenance 
in every cause, social, political, religious. The doctrines may be 
new, but the town itself is hardly older than the use of the Common 
for the free expression of current opinions. 

One new thing has come to the Common in the final years of the 
first decade of this century. The new thing can hardly be called a 
sense of permanence, for that has long existed; but there has come 
a definite and effective confirmation of this sense. There died in 
September, 1908, a citizen of Boston, Mr. George F. Parkman, who 

The Twentieth Century 73 

had lived for many years in a house overlooking the Common. In 
a codicil to his will, disposing of an ample fortune, he bequeathed 
to the City of Boston a fund, found to exceed five million dollars, 
"the income of which is to be applied to the maintenance and im- 
provement of the Common and the Parks now existing." In the 
body of the will it is seen that the benefactor planned his bequest 
" to the City of Boston in the hope and expectation that the Boston 
Common shall never be diverted from its present use as a public 
park for the benefit and enjoyment of its citizens." The past of the 
Common is secure: it has become a fixed possession of local history 
and sentiment. Now it appears that the future is also secure. 

What will this future hold? Surely nothing more noteworthy in 
the field of suggestive contrast than the two facts with which this 
brief historical record begins and ends. In 1634 every householder 
of the town was taxed six shillings and upwards to raise thirty 
pounds, one hundred and fifty dollars, for the purchase of Boston 
Common. In 1908 one citizen left five million dollars, out of the 
income of which it is to be maintained. 


f 1 1HE year in which a young century attains its majority af- 
fords a terminus for such a book as this far more appropri- 
ate than any such indistinguishable date as 1910. The pages im- 
mediately preceding these dealt with "The Twentieth Century" 
merely in its infancy. From childhood the century has now passed 
to manhood, and the transition has been accomplished under con* 
ditions for which no precedent exists. Between 1910 and 1921 the 
years have been packed, for all the world, with events material and 
spiritual, with readjustments and realizations, of a scope which a 
hundred ordinary years could hardly compass. All these have had 
their visible expression on Boston Common, never before so mani- 
festly a mirror of the life of Boston itself, of the country, even of the 

In one particular the Common has undergone changes of outward 
aspect which would have come about just as surely if there had been 
no such thing as a World War. The diligent expenditure of the 
income from the Parkman Fund has bent some of the paths from 
their ancient courses; has cut new ones, for purposes not always 
clear; has provided them, new and old, with a lavish, granolithic 
smoothness and dryness; has enriched the soil in grassy places and 
applied scientific surgery and other attentions to the trees; has 
erected a granite temple of music for the uses of a band-stand; and 
withal has made the Common a scene of industry from which the 
fruits of restfulness may be expected to grow for future generations. 

Postscript) 1 9 2 i 7$ 

The latest activity of picks, shovels, and carts has been one of the 
most beneficent — the levelling of the bare tract near Charles Street, 
long devoted to baseball and other games. 1 This contribution to the 
practical enjoyment of the Common by the most energetic younger 
citizens of Boston may appear to leave little remaining undone, but 
the civic imagination is fertile, and only a rash prophet would pre- 
dict the changes that could not possibly be chronicled in a further 
addition to these pages ten years hence. Ten years ago nobody 
could have foretold that in 1920 the portentous congestion of ve- 
hicle traffic on Boylston and Tremont Streets would lead to the 
substantial widening of these streets by the paring-away of the 
footpaths that edge the Common, and this without serious opposi- 
tion from any portion of the public. 

The recent physical changes thus briefly summarized are as per- 
manent as any such changes can be. While they have been in the 
making, many another change has come and gone with the coming 
and going of the World War. From the time the United States 
formally joined the Allied Powers until our soldiers and sailors were 
reabsorbed into the civilian population, the Common presented 
many scenes of extraordinary significance. 

At least one older man of affairs in Boston was wont to express 
his scepticism on any debatable point by exclaiming, " I '11 believe 
that when I see buffaloes on the Common." Deer he might have 
seen there in years gone by. Before the war a camel, which imparted 
a flavor of true orientalism to a " sumptuous production " in a Boston 

1 Even as this book passes through the press, a still later activity is in progress: 
the cobbled bottom of the Frog Pond gives place to concrete. 

y6 Boston Common 

theatre, might have been observed enjoying his daily exercise along 
the Charles Street Mall. But if the buffaloes have not yet appeared, 
the Bostonian who conjured with their absence had only to look 
out of his office windows during one of the "drives" of the war 
period to see that even more exotic animal, the elephant, marched 
to and fro in the Common for the speedier conversion of American 
patriotism into cash. 

The Common — particularly that corner of it which fronts 
Tremont Street in the neighborhood of Park Street — presented 
many spectacles quite as strange as elephants in 1917 and the two 
years that immediately followed. One of these was afforded by the 
Boston headquarters of a British and Canadian Recruiting Mission 
— with friendly "kilties" received as warmly by the local public as 
the "red-coats" of the eighteenth century were detested. The 
recruiting stations for the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps of the 
United States were but the modern equivalents of the recruiting 
tents used on the Common during the Civil War. Without any such 
precedent were the huts of the Y. M. C. A., the Knights of Colum- 
bus, Salvation Army, and the American Red Cross. The Army and 
Navy Canteen, in which departing and returning soldiers and sailors 
enjoyed the ministrations of a devoted band of local "war work- 
ers," the City of Boston Employment Bureau, the War Camp Com- 
munity Service, the Boston War Work Council, the United States 
Interdepartmental Social Hygiene Board, the War Service Com- 
mittee — each of these made its own contribution on the Common 
to the welfare of the young men in khaki and blue. There was also 
the "Liberty Cottage," a small building opposite West Street, the 

Postscript) 1 9 2 i 77 

busy nucleus for the activities of the Mayor's Reception Committee 
for Returning Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines, of Liberty Loan and 
Red Cross drives. From its portico impassioned bond salesmen 
poured forth their oratory, professional and amateur actors, ac- 
tresses, and singers, with and without megaphones, beguiled the 
passers-by; and when the war was over, such scenes as the bestowal 
of the Congressional Medal of Honor on Lieutenant-Colonel Whit- 
tlesey of the Lost Battalion were here enacted. 

Near the "down-town" end of the path leading from the West 
Street crossing to Park Street stood a group of five little buildings 
bearing the general name of "Food Administration Cottages." 
Planned by the Food Administration of Massachusetts, they were 
erected and maintained, under the following names, by the organi- 
zations and for the purposes named in connection with each : Num- 
ber 1, Food Facts Cottage, by the Women's City Club, to distribute 
literature and information about food; Number % Child Welfare 
Cottage, by the Boston Public Safety Committee and the Boston 
Food Conservation Committee, to give information and instruction 
about Child Welfare; Number 3, Administration Cottage, by the 
Public Safety Committee of Massachusetts, for lectures, meetings, 
and exhibitions for the State food work; Number 4, Civic Federa- 
tion Cottage, by the New England Branch of the National Civic 
Federation, for daily demonstrations in cooking, canning, and dry- 
ing; Number 5, Red Cross Cottage, by the Metropolitan Chapter 
of the American Red Cross, to exhibit its work and obtain member- 
ships in the Red Cross organization. A porch on the Administration 
Cottage was built and maintained by the Women's Municipal 

78 Boston Common 

League, for the display of food exhibits. In the same enclosure with 
all these buildings were war gardens, maintained and cultivated by 
the War Service Committee of the Women's City Club and the Girl 
Scouts, and a hen-house and yard, built and maintained by the 
Massachusetts State Agricultural College, for giving all possible 
information on the care of poultry. In this enclosure also patriotic 
moving pictures and community singing night after night brought 
together a large number of persons, to excellent purpose. 

On the work done in each of these cottages, and at all the other 
little structures which law and sentiment would have excluded from 
the precincts of the Common at any other time, whole chapters might 
be written. Little more than an imperfect catalogue of manifold 
activities can be given here, but it will not have been given in vain if 
it causes the reader to apprehend the diversity of "groups" and in- 
terests represented on the Common, and typifying the participation 
of the whole American public in the conduct of the war. To the 
scenes these activities provided should be added at least a mention 
of such other spectacles as an incipient riot provoked by a man who 
failed to remove his hat during the playing of the Marseillaise; a 
country cattle sale, to raise funds for buying seeds for the Food Con- 
servation campaign; the exhibition of a captured German field-gun, 
and antiaircraft gun, guarded day and night by soldiers tented 
near by, and of a captive balloon and searchlights provided by the 
United States Government to forward Liberty Loan subscriptions. 

The mere enumeration of some of these varied scenes will serve the 
present purpose, which is to recall the great and intensely practical 
uses to which the Common was put during the years when City, 

Postscript) 1 9 2 i 79 

State, and Nation were calling upon every man, woman, and child 
for the best they had to give to the imperilled cause of civilization. 
The unsubstantial pageant has faded and left not a rack behind — 
unless it be in the signs that remind one of the vanished recruiting 
booths: "Keep off the Grass: if you want to roam, join the Navy." 
Great these uses of the Common were, but not strange. They af- 
ford the perfectly fitting climax of the story of this bit of Boston 
territory, not only as the twentieth century passes from youth into 
manhood, but as Boston itself approaches the completion of its third 
century of existence. Never before in all its nearly three hundred 
years has the town or city so manifestly needed a universal meeting- 
place for its citizens of all degrees as through the time when America 
joined whole-heartedly in the effort of the world to save itself from 
ruin. No single building, no public square, could have met the 
mighty need. The Common was there to meet it, and the people 
of Boston, employing all their talents of organization and coopera- 
tion, seized upon it as their theatre of action. The stage-settings 
have been removed; the actors have gone their several ways; but 
the war-time Common has become a treasure of local and national 
memory which will endure. 




Justin Winsor (editor): The Memorial History of Boston. Boston, 1880-1881. 
NathanielB. Shurtleff : A Topographical and Historical Description of Boston. 
Boston, 1871. 

I. The Seventeenth Century 

Second Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston. Boston, 1877. 
Samuel Sewall: Diary (in Massachusetts Historical Society Collections). 

Boston, 1878-1882. 
Francis Parkman: The Old Regime in Canada (revised, with additions). 

Boston, 1896. 
Richard Price Hallow ell: The Quaker Invasion of Massachusetts. Boston, 

Horatio Rogers: Mary Dyer of Rhode Island, the Quaker Martyr that was 

hanged on Boston Common. Providence, 1896. 
George Bishop: New England Judged by the Spirit of the Lord. London, 1661 

and 1667-1703. 
Joseph Besse: An Abstract of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers. 

London, 1733-1738. 
Joseph Besse: A Collation of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers. 

London, 1753. 
A Call from Life to Death. London, 1660. (Reprinted, Providence, 1865.) 
John Gough: A History of the People called Quakers. Dublin, 1789. 
Thomas Story: A Journal of the Life of Thomas Story. Newcastle upon 

Tyne, 1747. 
Quaker Tracts in Boston Public Library and John Carter Brown Library. 

II. The Eighteenth Century 

Samuel Sewall: Diary. 

John Dun ton: Letters from New England. Boston (Prince Society), 1867. 
Samuel G. Drake: History and Antiquities of Boston. Boston, 1856. 
Samuel Adams Drake: Old Landmarks and Historic Personages of Boston. 

Boston, 1873. 
Transactions of the Colonial Society. 

Lucius Manlius Sargent: Dealings with the Dead. Boston, 1856. 
Edwin M. Bacon: Bacon's Dictionary of Boston. Boston, 1886. 
Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Bennett's Journal; 

Letters of John Andrews; Belknap's Journal). 

82 ' Sources of Information 

Publications of the Bostonian Society. 

Anne Howe Cunningham (editor) : Letters and Diary of John Rowe, Boston 

Merchant. Boston, 1903. 
Charles Knowles Bolton (editor) : Letters of Hugh, Earl Percy, from Boston 

and New York, 1774-1776. Boston, 1902. 
(John Barker): A British Officer in Boston in 1775. In Atlantic Monthly, 

April and May, 1877. 
Mary Farwell Ayer: Boston Common in Colonial and Provincial Times*. 

BostoD, 1903. Early Days on Boston Common. Boston, 1910. 
Richard Frothingham : History of the Siege of Boston. Boston, 1849. 
Horace E. Scudder (editor): Recollections of Samuel Breck. Philadelphia, 

Boston Newspapers of the Eighteenth Century. 

III. The Nineteenth Century 

Charles Shaw : A Topographical and Historical Description of Boston. Boa- 
ton, 1817. 

Publications of the Bostonian Society. 

Josiah Quincy: Figures of the Past. Boston, 1888. 

Boston City Council : The Railroad Jubilee. Boston, 1852. 

Edward Everett Hale: A New England Boyhood. New York, 1893. 

J. D'W. Lovett: Old Boston Boys and the Games They Played. Boston, 1906. 

John G. Hales: A Survey of Boston and Its Vicinity, etc. Boston, 1821. 

Henry G. Pearson: The Life of John A. Andrew. Boston, 1904. 

William Schouler: A History of Massachusetts in the Civil War. Boston, 1868. 

Warren H. Cudworth: History of the First Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry. 
Boston, 1866. 

Louis C. Elson: The National Music of America and its Sources. Boston, 

Benjamin F. Cook: History of the Twelfth Massachusetts Volunteers. Bostoa, 

The Public Rights in Boston Common: Being the Report of a Committee oj 
Citizens. Boston, 1877. 

Boston Transit Commission's First Report. Boston, 1895. 

Boston Newspapers of the Nineteenth Century. 

IV. The Twentieth Century 

Edward Everett Hale: Memories of a Hundred Years. New York, 1902. 
Boston City Document 69, 1909, containing Will of George F. Parkman. 
Boston Newspapers, 1901-1921. 



Alford, Mr., 19. 
Allen, "a Priest," 15. 
"America," Dr. S. F. Smith's, 43, 62, 71. 
Ames, Richard, 34. 
Amherst, Gen. Jeffrey, 28. 
Amsden, Jacob, 19. 

Ancient and Honoral le Artillery Com- 
pany, 5, 36; election, 52, 53. 
Andrew, Gov. John A., 59, 62, 63. 
Andrews, John, 36, 37. 
Armstrong, Mayor Samuel T., 41. 
Army and Navy Canteen, 76. 
Artillery Election, 52, 53. 
Atherton, Gen. Humphrey, 18. 
"Autocrat," The, 21, 57. 

Back Bay, 22, 45. 

Ball, Thomas, 51. 

Barker, Lt. John, 34, 37. 

Baseball, 55. 

Battery Wharf, 62. 

Battle-flags, Massachusetts, 66. 

Beacon Hill, 5, 70, 71. 

Beacon Street, 3, 41, 55, 62. 

Beacon Street Mall, 39, 41, 50, 51, 55, 61, 

Belknap, Jeremy, 38. 
Bennet, Capt., 27. 
Berkeley Street, 45. 
Bernard, Gov. Francis, 31. 
Besse, Joseph, 8n., 9, 12, 14, 15, 17. 
Bishop, George, 9, 10, 11, 13, 17. 
Black Hawk, 47. 
"Black Prince," 51. 
Blackstone. See Blaxton. 
Blaxton, Rev. William, 2, 3. 
Boats, toy, on Frog Pond, 54. 
Boston Brigade, 46, 47. 
Boston Common, bought from William 

Blaxton, 3; training-field and pasture, 

3-6 ; traditional scene of Quaker execu- 
tions, 7-18 ; 18th century welcomed on, 
19; "Pope Day" on, 20; duels on, 21 ; 
Whitefield on, 22-24; spinners on, 24, 
25; trees planted- on, 25, 26; military 
uses of, 26 ; fall of Louisburg celebrated 
on, 27, 28 ; troops of " Old French War " 
on, 28, 29; Stamp Act repeal cele- 
brated on, 29, 30; uses of, in Revolu- 
tionary period, 31-40 ; changes on and 
about, during 19th century, 41-45; 
Lafayette honored on, 45, 46 ; Andrew 
Jackson honored on, 46, 47; Indian 
war-dance on, 47, 48; "Water Celebra- 
tion" on, 48, 49; portion of "Railroad 
Jubilee" on, 50, 51; Prince of Wales 
honored on, 51 ; regular festivals ob- 
served on, 52-54 ; uses of, for recreation, 
54-56 ; walking on, 56, 57 ; Ellsworth's 
Zouaves on, 58 ; uses of, during the Civil 
War, 58-66 ; salvations of, 67-69 ; 20th 
century welcomed on, 70-72 ; provision 
for, under will of G. F. Parkman, 72, 
73; employment of Parkman fund on, 
74, 75; improved playground on, 75; 
strip taken from, for street-widening, 
75 ; in the World War, 75-80. 

"Boston Daily Advertiser," 45, 48, 58, 
60, 61, 63, 64. 

Boston Employment Bureau, 76. 

"Boston Evening Post," 24, 27, 28, 34. 

"Boston Evening Transcript," 67, 70. 

Boston Food Conservation Committee, 

*' Boston Gazette and Country Journal," 
31, 33, 35. 

"Boston Globe," 56. 

"Boston Herald," 56. 

"Boston Post-Boy and Advertiser," 29. 

Boston Public Safety Committee, 77. 



Boston War Work Council, 76. 
"Boston Weekly News-Letter," 22, 24. 
Boutwell, George S., 50. 
Boydell, John, 21. 
Boylston Street, 38, 57, 75. 
Boylston Street Mall, 57, 69. 
Braintree, 51. 
Brimstone Corner, 43, 44. 
British and Canadian Recruiting Mis- 
sion, 76. 
Bunker Hill, battle of, 37. 
Bunker Hill Monument, 46. 
Burgoyne, Gen. John, 36. 
Burial-Ground, Common, 57, 69. 
Byles, Rev. Mather, 33. 

Cambridge, 27. 

Camp Cameron, 59. 

Canavan, M. J., 8n. 

Canton Packet, 54. 

Captain, man-of-war, 29. 

Carpets, beating, 54. 

Carver Street, 38. 

Cecilia Society, 70. 

Centry Hill, 4, 5. 

Charles River Basin, 52. 

Charles Street, 3, 38, 45, 60. 

Charles Street Mall, 41, 50, 64. 

Charlestown, 2, 46. 

Chauncy, Rev. Charles, 35. 

Checkley, Rev. Samuel, 22. 

Choate, Rufus, 56. 

Civil War, uses of Common during, 58-66. 

Clarendon Street, 45. 

Clinton, Gen. Henry, 36. 

Coasting, British soldiers and, 40 ; in 19th 

century, 55, 56. 
Cochituate, Lake, 48, 49. 
Colbron, William, 4. 
Colonnade Row, 43. 
Columbus Ave., 68. 
Concord, 36. 
Cooke, Rev. Samuel, 34. 
Cooper, Rev. Samuel, 25. 
Copp's Hill, 20. 

Cornwallis, Lard, 40. 
Cotton, Rev. John, 4. 
Cows, 4, 33, 42, 54. 
Crane, Gov. W. Murray, 70. 

"Dealings with the Dead," 33. 

Deer Park, 57. 

Deserters, British, shot on Common, 33, 

Dorchester, 8n., 27, 36. 
Douglass, Frederick, 62. 
Drake, Samuel Adams, 26, 38. 
Ducket, Valentine, 34. 
Duels on Common, 21. 
Dunton, John, 19. 
Dyer, Mary, 8n., 10, 12-15. 

Edward VII, King, 51. 

Elgin, Lord, 50, 51. 

Eliot, Charles W., 66. 

Ellsworth, Col. E. E., 58. 

Elm, Great, or Old, 10, 17, 24, 25, 67. 

Elson, Louis C, 61. 

Emancipation Proclamation, 65. 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 42, 48, 57. 

Everett, Edward, 50, 56, 61, 63. 

Everett, William, 56. 

Executions of Quakers, 7-18. 

Faneuil, Peter, 21. 

Faneuil Hall, 31, 59. 

Fifth Cavalry (Mass. Vol.), 62. 

Fifth Regiment (British), 32. 

Fifth Regiment (Mass. Vol.), 59, 64. 

Fifty-fifth Infantry (Mass. Vol.), 62. 

Fifty-fourth (colored) Regiment (Mass. 

Vol.), 62. 
"Figures of the Past," 46. 
Fillmore, Millard, 50, 51. 
Fire, Boston (1872), 67, 68. 
Firemen's play-outs, 54. 
Fireworks on Common, 29, 30, 52, 67. 
First Regiment (Mass. Vol.), 59, 60. 
Flagstaff Hill, 21, 38, 39, 45, 51, 66. 
Food Administration Cottages, 77, 78. 



Forbes's, Gen., regiment, 29. 

Fort Hill, 32. 

Fort Warren, 61, 62. 

Fortifications, British, on Common, 38, 

Forty-fourth Regiment (Mass. Vol.), 64, 

Forty-third Regiment (British), 32. 
Fourteenth Regiment (British), 31. 
Fourth of July, 52, 53, 66. 
Fourth Regiment (British), 32, 34. 
Fourth Regiment (Mass. Vol.), 59, 64. 
Fox Hill, 38. 
Franklin, Benjamin, 24. 
Fraser's Highlanders, 29. 
Frog Pond, 10, 40, 42, 49, 54, 63, 75n. 
Fusiliers, Independent Boston, 51. 

Gallows Bay, 8n. 

General Election, 34, 35, 52, 53. 

Gettysburg, battle of, 65. 

Girl Scouts, 78. 

Granary Burying Ground, 21. 

Green, Dr. Samuel A., 69. 

Hale, Edward Everett, 39, 53, 54, 56, 70- 

Hales, John G., 57. 
Hamilton Place, 24. 
Hancock, John, 30, 31, 41. 
Hancock, Mrs. John, 40. 
Hancock house, 36, 39, 43. 
Handel and Haydn Society, 70. 
"History of the Twelfth Massachusetts 

Volunteers," 61. 
Hockey, 55. 

Hollis Street Church, 33. 
Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1, 2, 32, 42, 53. 

See also " Autocrat." 
Horse-racing, Sunday, on Common, 34. 
Howe, Gen. William, 36, 39. 
Howell, George and Nathan, 22. 

Indians on Common, 47, 48. 
Ingersole, Mrs., 23. 

Jackson, Andrew, 46, 47. 
"John Brown's Body," 61, 62. 
Johnson, Edward, 5. 
Josselyn, John, 6, 7. 
Joy Street, 47, 54-56. 

King Street, 31. 
King's Chapel, 71. 
Kite-flying, 55. 
Knights of Columbus, 76. 

Lad, George, 16. 

Lafayette, Marquis de, 41, 45, 46. 

Lascelle's regiment, 29. 

Latin School, 5. 

La Tour and French soldiers on Common, 

Lawrence, Col. T. Bigelow, 51. 
Leddra, William, 15-17. 
Lee, Col. Francis L., 64. 
Lee, Col. Henry, 39. 
"Legend of Brimstone Corner, A," 44. 
Lexington, 36, 59. 
"Liberty Cottage," 76, 77. 
Liberty Loan drives, 77. 
Light Artillery, 59. 
Lincoln, Abraham, death of, 66. 
"Long Coast," 55. 
Long Mall, 57. 
Long Path, 57. 
Long Wharf, 31. 
Longfellow, Henry W., 28. 
Louisburg Expedition, 27, 28. 
Lovett, James D'Wolf, 55. 
Lowell, James Russell, 49. 

"Madison War," the, 41. 

Mascarene, Paul, 26. 

Massachusetts Agricultural College, 78. 

Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics As- 
sociation, 68. 

Massachusetts Historical Society, 25. 

Massachusetts Public Safety Committee, 

Mayor's Reception Committee, 77. 



Michaelson, marshal, 10. 
Millmore, Martin, 66. 
Monument, Army and Navy, 66. 
Monument Hill. See Flagstaff Hill. 

Soldiers' Monument. 
Mount Vernon Street, 42. 
Muster, annual, 52. 

National Civic Federation, 77. 
"National Music of America, The," 61. 
"New England Boyhood, A," 53. 
New England Guards, 45. 
"New South" Church, 22. 
"Nigger 'Lection," 53. 
North End, 13, 20. 

"Old Boston Boys and the Games they 

Played," 55. 
Oliver, Capt. James, 9. 
Oliver, Elder Thomas, 4. 
Osliaba, Russian war vessel, 65. 
Otis, Mayor Harrison G., 42. 
Ox roasted on Common, 35. 

Parade Ground, 51, 52, 68. 

Park Square, 3, 4n., 69. 

Park Street, 3, 41, 57, 63. 

Park Street Church, 43, 44, 62. 

Park Street Mall, 41, 50, 56, 66. 

Parkman, Francis, 6. 

Parkman, George F., 72, 73. 

Parkman fund, 74. 

"Peace Jubilee," 67. 

Pepperell, Sir William, 27. 

Percy, Hugh, Earl, 32, 36, 37. 

Perkins brothers, 54. 

Phillips, Henry, 21. 

Phillips, Wendell, 23. 

Pinckney Street, 3. 

Pitcairn, Major John, 37. 

Playground, the Common as a, 54-56; on 

Common, 75. 
Pollard, Col. Benjamin, 28. 
"Pope Day," 20. 
Prince of Wales on Boston Common, 51. 

Providence Station, 60. 
Public Garden, 22, 38, 51. 
Punch and Judy shows, 53. 

Quakers, execution of, 7-18. 
Quincy, Josiah (1st Mayor Q.), 41. 
Quincy, Josiah (2d Mayor Q.), 46, 49. 

Rafferty, Patrick, 63. 
"Railroad Jubilee," 50, 51. 
Rantoul, Robert S., 49. 
Readville, 65. 

Recruiting on Common, 62, 63, 76. 
Red Cross, American, 76, 77. 
Renfrew, Lord, 51. 

Revolution, War of, uses of Common dur- 
ing, 31-40. 
Richmond, fall of, 65, 66. 
Robinson, William, 8n., 9-13. 
Round Marsh, 4. 
Rowe, John, 20, 30, 35. 
Royal Scots Regiment, 29. 
Ruggles, Mrs., 23. 
Russian War vessels, 65. 

Saint-Gaudens, Augustus, 62. 
Salvation Army, 76. 
Sargent, Lucius Manlius, 33. 
"Schoolmistress," "Autocrat'* and, 21, 

Second Battalion (Mass. Inf.), 61. 
Sentry Hill, 5. See also Gentry Hill. 
Sewall, Judge Samuel, 6, 8n., 19, 70, 71. 
Shaw, Col. Robert Gould, 62. 
Sheerness, man-of-war, 21. 
Shepard, Mrs., 23. 
Shiloh, battle of, 65. 
Shurtleff, Nathaniel B., 8n., 26, 55. 
Sixth Regiment (Mass. Vol.), 59, 64. 
Sixty-fifth Regiment (British), 34. 
Skating, 22, 54. 
Smart, Capt. Thomas, 21. 
Smith, Lt.-Col. Francis, 37. 
Smokers' Retreat or Circle, 57. 
Soldiers' Monument, 21, 39, 66. 



8 9 

South Bay, 8n. 
South End, 20. 
"Spinning Craze," 24, 25. 
Spruce Street, 3. 
Stamp Act, repeal of, 29, 30. 
State House, 43, 47, 48, 59, 62, 70, 71. 
State Street, 31, 61. 
Stevenson, Marmaduke, 9-13. 
Storey, Mrs., 23. 
Story, Thomas, 8n. 
Street-car problems, 68. 
Subway, 41, 68, 69. 

"Survey of Boston and its Vicinity," 

Tea Party, 31, 32. 

Third Regiment (Mass. Vol.) 59, 64. 

Thirty-eighth Regiment (British), 32. 

Thirty-third Regiment (Mass. Vol.), 63. 

"Tigers, The," 61. 

Training-field, 3, 26, 52, 54. 

Tremont Street, 26, 57, 68 ; widening of, 

Tremont Street Mall, 26, 39, 41, 43, 50, 

52, 55, 57. 
Twelfth Regiment (Mass. Vol.), 60, 61. 
Twenty-ninth Regiment (British), 31. j 

United States Interdepartmental Hy- 
gienic Board, 76. 

Van Buren, Martin, 46, 47. 

Vicksburg, fall of, 65. 

Vitiaz, Russian war vessel, 65. 

Walker, Robert, 4. 

Walking on and round Common, 56, 57. 
War Camp Community Service, 76. 
War Service Committee, 76. 
Washington, George, statue in Public 

Garden, 51. 
"Water Celebration," 48, 49. 
Watts, Dr. Isaac, 22. 
Webb, Capt. John, 14. 
Webb's regiment, 29. 
Webster, Daniel, 56. 
Webster, Fletcher, 60, 61. 
Webster Regiment, 60, 61. 
Wendell, Col. Jacob, 27. 
West Street, 50, 55, 62, 63, 69. 
Whitefield, Rev. George, 22-24. 
Whitman, Walt, 57. 
Whittlesey, Lt.-Col., 77. 
Wilkie, Thomas, 16. 
Wilson, Rev. John, 8n., 10-13. 
Winter Street, 71. 
Winthrop, John, 2. 
Winthrop, Robert. C, 50, 63. 
Wishing Stone, 54. 
Withington, Ebenezer, 36. 
Woodbridge, Benjamin, 21. 
Women's City Club, 77, 78. 
Women's Municipal League, 77, 78. 
World War, the, use of the Common in 

connection with, 75-80. 

Young Men's Christian Association, 76. 
Zouaves, Ellsworth's, 58. 

U . S . A